The ongoing Matt Harvey innings limit saga isn't something that a team in the midst of its first pennant race since 2008 should have to endure, but it's here Mets fans, and it isn't going away.
There has to be a way to preserve the health of Harvey's arm and the health of the Mets' playoff chances without going too far past the innings limit of 180 that was brought up by both Harvey and his agent, Scott Boras, in the last few days. Harvey currently sits at 171.2 innings after taking the mound in Washington last night. Even if the Mets shut Harvey down now, that still leaves the Mets with two problems. First, they lose one of their best pitchers for most of the final month as they try to hold onto the NL East lead. Second, if Harvey wants to pitch in the postseason, like he said in The Players' Tribune on Sunday, he's may be pretty rusty after not pitching for several weeks.
The Mets could keep Harvey's arm healthy and rust-free by shifting him to a relief role for the rest of the season. The Mets' bullpen has struggled at times to get the ball into the very capable hands of Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia, who have been mostly lights out in the setup and closer roles, respectively. Handing Harvey the ball in the seventh inning of a tight game could be a game-changer and could be a welcome alternative to Sean Gilmartin, Hansel Robles or Addison Reed.
Another move would be to have Harvey piggyback Noah Syndergaard for the rest of the season. Syndergaard is also having his innings monitored this year. He has already logged 152 innings this year, nineteen more than his previous high mark of 133 last year. The Mets could pull Syndergaard after five innings in his remaining four or five starts and allow Harvey to follow him with a couple innings. The Mets could even use this method in the playoffs, if they make it.
The bottom line is that if the Mets make the postseason, they need Matt Harvey. Not just now, but in the years to come. Harvey out of the bullpen could be a very dangerous weapon, while saving his arm from being overworked. Let's face it, a few good innings from Harvey are better than none at all.