Matt Harvey has a stern challenge against the Dodgers tonight.LOS ANGELES
FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey is not opposing Clayton Kershaw. But Harvey is facing Kershaw’s Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET today. And Kershaw is the primary competition for the NL Cy Young Award. And the Dodgers have won 38 of their past 46 games.
So isn’t tonight a statement game for the Mets ace?
“No, no,” insisted Harvey, who is coming off a four-hit shutout against the Colorado Rockies. “I look at it more as the way we’re playing as a team now. We’re playing really good baseball. I take pride in going out there every fifth day and trying to win. It’s an important game. It’s an important series for us. Obviously the intensity has picked up a little bit as a whole, for all of us. We want to make a good run here. Having a good August is something at the break that we wanted to do. Every start from now on is real important.”
Harvey said he briefly chatted with Kershaw during the All-Star Game and “he seemed like a great guy.”
As for Kershaw being the competition for the Cy Young, Harvey added: “That’s something I haven’t even thought about. We’ve got a lot of games left.”
Meanwhile, Harvey is happy the Mets are back to a five-man rotation. Even though his ERA is a sterling 0.91 this season when pitching on extra rest, Harvey strongly prefers the routine of pitching every fifth day.
Of course, the Mets reverting to the five-man rotation means Harvey might need to be shut down with a week or so left in the season because he has reached his team-imposed innings cap.
Harvey currently is at 159 2/3 innings. He tossed 169 1/3 last year before the organization shut him down following a Sept. 19 start. So he probably has no more than 50 innings remaining. And that may be generous, considering it would mean a 40-inning jump from 2012.
“I try to go nine [innings] every start,” Harvey said. “If they start adding up, and they decide it’s time to shut it down, then that’s their call. I’m never going to want to give up the ball or not go out there. I like the five-day rotation. It’s been like that forever for a reason. If they decide I’ve had enough, then I’ve had enough.”
Harvey begrudgingly sounded like shaving one start off the end of his season would not send him into a rage.
“Maybe one start or a week, I think at that point I’ll feel like I finished a full season,” Harvey said. “But if it was two weeks or three weeks, kind of like it was last year, that’s a different story. Obviously I’m not going to be happy to miss any starts.”
Harvey (9-3, 2.09 ERA) opposes left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-3, 2.99) tonight.
"He'll be pitching in front of 40,000, against a team that's red hot," Terry Collins said. "We know Matt Harvey gets fired up for challenges like that."
Tuesday’s news reports:
• Daniel Murphy had a couple of near-misses fielding in what became a three-run sixth for the Dodgers and Juan Lagares struck out on a controversial call a half-inning later with the bases loaded as L.A. beat the Mets, 4-2, Monday night. Wilmer Flores twisted his right ankle during the second inning and is questionable for tonight. Jenrry Mejia took a scoreless effort into the sixth in what became a hard-luck loss.
• Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada spoke with Jared Diamond in the Journal about getting demoted to Las Vegas at this stage of their careers. “Guys sometimes get hurt, and they never get their spot back,” Wally Backman told Diamond.
• Collins said he has no intention of using Flores in the outfield, but does plan to get him a limited look at second base.
A team evaluator told Mike Puma in the Post about using Flores at second: “He has got pretty good hands and he turns the double play fine, but his range is not good at all. Murphy has definitely got more range, and that’s not saying a whole lot. I really don’t think on a championship team [Flores] can play second. He’s an RBI guy. He can drive in runs. But can he drive in enough to overshadow it?
“There are going to be so many times over the course of a season at second base you’re going to go, ‘Oh, my God.’ Is it going to get any better? I don’t think so.”
• Read more on Harvey’s matchup against the Dodgers in the Daily News.
• Whether Jeremy Hefner is demoted to Las Vegas or lands on the major league disabled list will not be resolved until after another exam of his right elbow on Wednesday with team doctors, a Mets spokesman said.
• T.J. Rivera had a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach, 8-4. Read the full minor league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Vinegar Bend Mizell, who pitched for the ’62 Mets, was born on this date in 1930. Mizell’s actual name: Wilmer David Mizell.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
I need a good book to read. Preferably something with a lot of pictures. Any suggestions?
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) August 12, 2013
YOU’RE UP: Who deserves to win the NL Cy Young?