WASHINGTON -- The Mets have officially set up their new six-man starting rotation, which they hope will allow both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to continue pitching through September.
After Dillon Gee and Carlos Torres finish off this weekend's series in Washington, Jeremy Hefner, Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Harvey will start next week's four-game set in Miami. The Mets will continue proceeding with a six-man rotation from there, until either injury or ineffectiveness alters the situation.
"I think it's too early to determine how far we're going to go out with it," manager Terry Collins said. "It all depends on what happens here -- my guess, in the next two or three weeks. If we continue to play pretty good, you look up and you're five or six [games] out, we'll have to determine what our next move is."
Collins estimated that Harvey has 10 starts remaining before he hits his innings limit, while Wheeler appears to be in a similar spot. Using a six-man rotation -- a strategy made possible by the strong recent showings of Mejia and Torres -- will help both of them to extend their remaining innings well into September. As a general (but somewhat flexible) rule, the Mets do not like young pitchers to increase their innings totals by more than 30 from one year to the next.
Niese begins rehab assignment for Gulf Coast Mets
WASHINGTON -- Though he still remains a ways off from active duty, left-hander Jon Niese made his first Minor League rehab appearance Saturday for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets. Niese, who has been on the disabled list since June 21 with a partial tear of his left rotator cuff, allowed three hits and four runs (two earned) in two innings against the Nationals' affiliate, striking out one.
"I don't know how many more he's got to go," manager Terry Collins said of Niese's rehab assignment, which can last up to a month. "We've got to get him up to where there's some endurance there, because the one thing we don't need is to have a pitcher come here right now this time of year and be a five-inning guy. We've got to make sure he builds up his pitch count to where he can at least go 100."
When Niese does return, the Mets will need to find a spot for him in their new six-man rotation, though Collins likes to note that such situations typically work themselves out. By the time Niese reaches the big leagues, the Mets may no longer even be using a six-man schedule.
Niese is 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA in 14 starts this season, pitching through shoulder discomfort in several of them. He came into this year fresh off a breakout season that saw him win 13 games with a 3.40 ERA.
With knee feeling better, Young back in Mets' lineup
WASHINGTON -- After sitting out a game and a half with a sore right knee, Eric Young Jr. was back in the Mets' starting lineup Saturday, batting leadoff and playing left field. Young originally injured his knee Wednesday on the play that broke Braves pitcher Tim Hudson's right ankle.
Infielder Justin Turner, who left Game 2 of Friday's doubleheader with soreness in his right shoulder and knee, was "still sore" Saturday, according to manager Terry Collins, but "able to play" if needed.
That is good news for Collins, who is proceeding with a short bench to accommodate his six-man rotation. Collins said he plans to use a four-man bench of Turner, Anthony Recker, Josh Satin and Andrew Brown until it either proves inefficient, or the Mets move back to a five-man rotation.
"We're going to sustain it for a little bit," the manager said.
• Collins said Saturday that there is "a possibility" reliever Jeurys Familia, who underwent surgery last month to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from his right elbow, could pitch again this season. But Collins also cautioned that he has "heard that before." The Mets assumed at the time of Familia's surgery that he would be done for the year.
• Rehabbing prospect Travis d'Arnaud drove in three runs Saturday for the Class A Gulf Coast Mets, catching a full game for the second straight day. Outfielder Lucas Duda, who is also rehabbing an injury for the GCL Mets, went 0-for-4 Saturday and is hitless in 13 at-bats since joining that team.