CINCINNATI -- A couple of days after departing his Subway Series outing after five scoreless innings and with his pitch count at a modest 77, New York Mets ace Matt Harvey approached manager Terry Collins and essentially said enough is enough.
Uncomfortable that innings restrictions were hindering his sharpness as the postseason approached, Harvey told Collins that he wanted to pitch deep into games during his final two starts of the regular season.
“I need to throw 100 pitches in my next two outings,” Collins quoted Harvey as saying. “We’re going to win this, and I need to be ready for the playoffs, and I’m not ready. In the game against the Yankees, I finally felt comfortable in the fifth inning, and I came out. I’ve got to get ready.”
“Well, we’ve got to go through some channels before we do that, and talk to [GM] Sandy [Alderson] about it,” Collins said he replied.
“It’s his call,” Alderson then told Collins.
The next day, Collins told Harvey: “You’re on.”
So after all the hullabaloo about Harvey’s innings cap, the ace ultimately said to forget about it ... at least within reason.
The Mets had Harvey throw 97 pitches over 6 2/3 innings in Saturday’s postseason clincher against the Cincinnati Reds, even though that raised Harvey’s season innings count to 182 1/3. That’s 10 outs beyond the level at which agent Scott Boras had publicly stated Harvey’s health would begin to be imperiled.
Collins acknowledged teammates were frustrated when Harvey departed after five innings against the Yankees despite working on a one-hit shutout.
“They weren’t mad at him,” Collins said. “Nobody was mad at Matt. It was just the whole situation I think guys were mad at. Not Matt. We’re fighting for the pennant here. Nobody was mad at Matt. Just like me, I wasn’t mad at Matt. It was the situation.”
Collins said it’s still not clear if Harvey will pitch with more frequency in the postseason now that he is not as determined to keep his innings restricted. Still, Collins insisted, any playoff games Harvey does pitch in will be starts of regular length -- not abbreviated outings. That would have been the case even without Harvey’s commitment last week to place less emphasis on the innings restrictions, according to the manager.
“The other team will determine how long he pitches,” Collins said.
The Mets are targeting 75 to 80 pitches for Harvey's final regular-season start, on Saturday against the Washington Nationals.
“I know this guy real well," Collins said. "When you saw the look on his face after I took him out of the Yankee game, he was disturbed. He understood it, but he was not happy with it. So I was not surprised when he walked in and said, ‘I want to pitch.’ I said, ‘It’s always been your call. You have to make the decisions. It’s your life. It’s your career. You’re going to make the call. If you want to pitch, you’re going to pitch.’”
Collins said that while no determination has been made, it certainly makes sense to have Harvey pitch Game 3 of the Division Series.
“For me, one of the biggest games of the playoffs is Game 3,” Collins said. “It’s huge. For me it’s the pivotal game of any playoff. That might be the perfect spot. We can watch his workload yet have him pitch the pivotal game.”