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Mets no longer guaranteeing young starters will avoid shutdown

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NEW YORK -- New York Mets officials had publicly resolved since spring training that their young starting pitchers' innings would be controlled enough during the regular season so that team-imposed innings caps and shutdowns could be avoided. For the first time, manager Terry Collins deviated from that script on Sunday.

Collins said Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have been so successful, there is no guarantee the front office won't come to him in September and say a pitcher is done for the year.

"Right now, with them on this five-day plan, they're going to get to those limits," Collins said. "And if they're tired, they aren't pitching anymore. We'll worry about that down the road. Right now we can't worry about it."

Collins said Steven Matz is expected back from the disabled list in early September and would be used to spread out other pitchers' outings as a way to conserve innings. The Mets also will use a spot start later this month, according to Collins.

"We're walking that fine line right now because their competitiveness is driving them to dominate," Collins said about his young aces. "When you dominate, you stay in games longer, which means you pitch more innings, which means you get closer to those numbers that we've got to be careful of. That's why we're certainly very hopeful that we can get Steven back here, put that extra guy in there, because that will allow these guys to miss a start, at least. And that will get those numbers in the range we want them to be in."

On avoiding shutdowns, Collins added: "It's too early to say. We aren't even close to being there yet. When that point comes, then we can make decisions. But I'm not going to sit here and look at a crystal ball and be able to tell you this guy is not going to be able to pitch in the playoffs."