Terry Collins isn't happy about managing Matt Harvey's innings for the rest of the regular season. He'll be a lot less perturbed when the New York Mets clinch the NL East.
Collins gives the ball to Harvey for another abbreviated outing as the Mets try to win their first division title in nine years Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Harvey (12-7, 2.80 ERA) has thrown 176 2/3 innings and is healthy in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. However, agent Scott Boras has said doctors don't want him to surpass 180 and the ace has two scheduled starts left before the playoffs.
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The situation has left Collins to either skip Harvey's turn in the rotation or pull him early - regardless of how he's performing.
That scenario played out in disastrous fashion Sunday when Harvey made his first start in 12 days. The ace allowed one hit with seven strikeouts before leaving after five scoreless innings only for the bullpen to waste it in an 11-2 loss to the Yankees.
"You don't want to know what I was thinking," Collins said. "You might want to know, but I can't tell you."
Collins, though, conceded that he's been forced to make some adjustments.
"It's hard for me to get it, because I am, at heart, the old-school guy," he said. "But I understand where it's coming from. Therefore, you adjust to it.
"Because I've said before, there's a lot of things in our game today I don't necessarily agree with. You adjust to it or get out. So I'm adjusting to it. I might get out here pretty soon, but I'm going to adjust to it right now."
While the Harvey dilemma has caused major consternation among fans, the mood will become celebratory if New York (87-67) locks up the East on Saturday.
A win over Cincinnati (63-90) or a Washington loss to Philadelphia would be enough to send the Mets to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
The magic number was cut to one after Friday's 12-5 win extended New York's road winning streak to a franchise record-tying nine games.
"It's definitely pretty special," said first baseman Lucas Duda, who had a career-high six RBIs on a pair of three-run homers. "It's a very exciting time."
Duda's big night came after he had two run-scoring doubles in a 6-4 win in the opener of this four-game series. He had one homer, eight RBIs and a .200 batting average over his previous 25 games.
"It's nice to see his swing's back," Collins said. "He's a big piece in the lineup."
Left-hander John Lamb (1-3, 4.60) gets his first start against the Mets after facing a division leader in two of his last three. He's 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in that stretch, including 11 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts in two outings against St. Louis.
The 25-year-old rookie struck out six Cardinals in Monday's 2-1 loss, but gave up a leadoff double in the seventh and was pulled despite throwing only 84 pitches.
"A couple of years from now, maybe even next year, I'll give him that opportunity to pitch through that," manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website.
"For a young guy, I think building up confidence and building up his success and having good outings against good teams, in particular, is a very valuable stepping stone to getting those opportunities in the future."
Lamb is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in four home starts.
The Reds have struggled against Harvey, who's 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against them. He allowed an unearned run in six innings of a 2-1 win June 27.