WASHINGTON -- Calling Miguel Batista the team's best available option, the Mets have decided to start the 41-year-old veteran Saturday over top prospect Matt Harvey.
"We want to make sure that when he starts his Major League career, it's an auspicious start," general manager Sandy Alderson said of Harvey. "He's knocking on the door. We can hear him. But we thought this was the best decision."
Those words came mere minutes after manager Terry Collins called Harvey at Triple-A Buffalo to relay the organization's decision, and one day after Harvey submitted a mottled outing in front of team brass at Buffalo. With front office lieutenant J.P. Ricciardi in attendance, Alderson watching on television, and Collins phoning in for updates, Harvey walked four batters and hit another, but also escaped multiple jams to pitch into the seventh.
It was not enough to convince the Mets that he is the best option to fill Dillon Gee's vacant rotation spot on Saturday. Though the decision is by no means permanent, Mets officials huddled and agreed that Batista gives them their strongest chance to beat the Dodgers.
"I don't think there's a scenario that [did] not get analyzed," Collins said.
Batista was initially the clear choice to start Saturday until he walked four batters over 1 1/3 innings last Friday in Atlanta, casting doubt over his ability to succeed. The next day, the Mets announced that they would dispatch top officials to Buffalo to watch Harvey, who had posted a 1.88 ERA over his previous four outings.
If ever there was a time to call him up, it seemed to be now, with the Mets in need of a starting pitcher and Harvey both on turn and pitching well. But the Mets are committed to seeing both Harvey and fellow top prospect Zack Wheeler dominate Triple-A before promoting them; whenever they ultimately call those two up to New York, they do not want to fear sending them back down. To that end, Alderson said he "cannot envision a scenario" in which Wheeler, a 22-year-old currently at Double-A, will pitch for the Mets this season.
That is not congruent to the case of Harvey, who should still pitch in New York this summer -- perhaps as soon as later this month. But it will not happen this weekend.
"His development ... needs to be independent of what we're doing at the Major League level," Alderson said. "The fact that we have a need, he's knocking on the door, there's a convergence of the two things. But rightly or wrongly, we've decided Saturday is not the right time."