Whatever the New York Mets' plan is for monitoring Matt Harvey's workload, he's responding with his best pitching of the season.
The Philadelphia Phillies have allowed Aaron Nola to go deeper into his last two starts, and the results have been every bit as impressive.
The two No. 7 overall draft choices meet for the first time Wednesday night in New York with the Mets needing a win to avoid a series loss to the worst team in baseball.
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Harvey (11-7, 2.48 ERA) hasn't allowed three earned runs in any of his last eight starts, going 4-1 with a 1.29 ERA and .177 opponent batting average, and he only got stronger last month. In four August starts, the right-hander was 2-0 with a 0.33 ERA and .160 OBA.
With an eye on the playoffs, the Mets gave him 11 days between his last two starts, and Harvey responded by allowing two hits with eight strikeouts in six scoreless innings of Friday's 6-4 home loss to Boston. The 26-year-old has thrown 160 innings, which is 18 1-3 shy of his 2013 career high. With 30 regular-season games and a potential playoff run looming, there's the potential that he'll far exceed that.
"He wanted to throw another inning," manager Terry Collins said. "I said we can't do it, that's why we gave you time off."
Harvey also hasn't allowed three earned runs in any of his last eight home starts, posting a 4-0 record and 0.99 ERA. None of those came against the Phillies, but he's 5-1 with 1.99 ERA in seven career starts in the series. Domonic Brown (0 for 10 with seven strikeouts), Odubel Herrera (0 for 6), Carlos Ruiz (1 for 7) and Cody Asche (1 for 6) have all struggled.
That kind of hitting will make it difficult for Nola (5-1, 3.26) to win a third straight start in his first encounter with a potential future rival.
The 22-year-old has allowed a run and five hits in 15 innings over consecutive wins, though those games came against Miami and San Diego. The right-hander has won five of seven starts since taking a tough-luck loss in his MLB debut on July 21.
"I feel a little bit more comfortable now," Nola told MLB's official website. "I know I can pitch here. But my main goal is to pitch to win and to try and keep the guys in the best position every single time I go out."
That's been enough for interim manager Pete Mackanin.
"I'll take five pitchers just like him," Mackanin said.
Such an effort would have gone to waste in Philadelphia's 14-8 win on Tuesday. It ended a 10-game losing streak to the Mets (73-59), though New York has still won 13 of 15 in the season series. The Phillies (53-80) will now try for their first series win over the Mets in nine tries, but they haven't won consecutive games over the 6-24 run.
"It wasn't pretty, but I'd like to think that we broke the spell," Mackanin said.
New York, which has lost six of eight at home, wasted a home run from Yoenis Cespedes, his career-high 27th of the season. All nine he's hit with the Mets have come in the last 19 games, and the last four have come in his first six career games against the Phillies.
Michael Conforto went 2 for 4 in the loss, giving the rookie a .464 average in his last 10 games.
Philadelphia's Darin Ruf has two home runs and eight RBIs in his last two games, both against the Mets.