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Terry Collins: Matt Harvey's night vs. Yankees has strict innings limit

NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey has another innings limit.

New York Mets manager Terry Collins said Harvey will be removed from Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees after a set number of innings, no matter the situation in the game and no matter how well Harvey is pitching. Collins wouldn't reveal the number publicly, but he said Harvey knows what it is.

"When he reaches the innings count, he's out, whether he has thrown 40 pitches or 85 pitches," Collins said.

Harvey is in his first season after Tommy John surgery, and his innings count became a major issue for the Mets when agent Scott Boras said Sept. 4 that Harvey should have a hard limit of 180. The Mets disputed the idea there should be a hard cap, but they've taken steps to lighten the workload for Harvey, who has pitched 171 2/3 innings going into the start on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

Sunday's start will be Harvey's second since the innings limit became a major topic, and his first since he allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings Sept. 8 in Washington. Collins said the Mets have tentatively scheduled Harvey for two more regular-season starts, both with hard innings limits, but that he would not have a similar limit if he starts a postseason game.

Collins pointed to stats Jayson Stark used in his ESPN.com column on Harvey, showing that he has been one of the most efficient pitchers in baseball based on pitches per inning and "stressful innings."

"So I don't think pitch count is the issue," Collins said. "Innings is the issue."

Collins shuffled his lineup for Sunday's game, putting Ruben Tejada in the leadoff spot for just the second time this season and moving the struggling Yoenis Cespedes down a spot from second to third. Cespedes began play Sunday hitless in his last 17 at-bats, but both he and Collins expressed confidence that he'll start hitting soon.

"I think Yoenis is going to have a great final 14 games, and we're going to hop on his back and ride him," Collins said.

Cespedes said he could give no reason for the slump, but disputed the idea that it had anything to do with being hit by a pitch last Tuesday against the Miami Marlins.

"It had nothing to do with that," he said. "The only thing I'm scared of is death -- and I'm not scared of that."