LOS ANGELES -- At the start of the year, many players avoid making hard statistical goals for the season. Matt Harvey does not.
One of Harvey's aims heading into his first full big league season was to pitch 200 innings, which he might have done over two levels last year had the Mets not shut him down in mid-September.
This year, 200 innings sits near the upper limit of what the Mets will allow Harvey to achieve. Though the organization has not revealed any hard numbers regarding a shutdown of its young ace, the working assumption is that they will not allow him to exceed last year's total of 169 1/3 innings by much more than 30.
Assuming Harvey continues to average seven innings per start, as he has up to this point, he will hit the 200-inning mark around the second week of September. That would prompt the Mets to shut him down with as many as three full weeks left in the season -- a fate they could have delayed by roughly a week had Jeremy Hefner not suffered an elbow injury, forcing them to whittle their six-man rotation down to five.
Harvey understands all that, and will ultimately accept it. But he also feels there is value in lasting through the end of September.
"Obviously, I'm not going to be happy to miss any starts, but if it's a week, I'm not going to look at it like I didn't finish a full season," Harvey said.
The only ways Harvey might last deeper would be if he pitched some clunkers, if the Mets skipped him once or twice in the rotation, or if they removed him prematurely from successful starts. None of those scenarios are ideal.
So Harvey, who actually prefers the five-man rotation because it helps him maintain his normal routine, may have to accept an early shutdown for the second consecutive season. His silver lining? Finishing around 200 innings would all but guarantee that he will have no workload restrictions in 2014.
"I try and go nine every start," Harvey said. "So obviously if they start adding up and they decide it's time to shut it down, that's their call. I'm never going to want to give up the ball or not go out there, but I like the fact that it's a five-man rotation. It's been like that forever for a reason, and if they decide that I've had enough, then I've had enough."