The New York Mets have to reconvene.
This just isn’t going to work.
The Matt Harvey pitching plan needs to be shredded once again.
The Mets feared something like this would happen, and a full debacle was on display before a national TV audience Sunday night in an 11-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
Harvey pitched exceptionally well the first five innings, giving up just one infield hit, and throwing only 77 pitches, with his last pitch a 95-mph fastball.
Then, he was yanked, which was scripted before the game.
“The last thing I want to do,’’ Harvey told reporters, “is come out in a game like that.’’
And then the roof fell in on the Mets, which they also feared would happen.
“It was extremely hard to take (Harvey) out,’’ Mets manager Terry Collins said. “It was the perfect storm. You couldn’t have set it up any worse than it was.”
Simply, the Mets can’t treat these regular-season games – let alone postseason matchups – as if these are spring-training games from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
You can’t operate that way, even with a six-game lead over the Washington Nationals, but facing a 1 ½-game deficit to the Los Angeles Dodgers for home-field advantage in the NL Division Series.
The Mets plan to make this look even sillier by having Harvey pitch perhaps only three or four innings in his next two regular-season starts.
And in the postseason? Who knows? Is he limited to five innings? Is it 60 pitches? Is there a time limit?
“It’s hard for me to get it,’’ Collins told reporters before the game. “I am at heart an old-school guy but I understand where it’s coming from, therefore you adjust to it. You either adjust to it or get out.
“I might get out pretty soon, but I’m adjusting to it right now.’’
So much for the fun of being in a pennant race, with the Mets still holding onto a comfortable lead, and having only the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies (combined 90 games under .500) left on their schedule, before a (presumably meaningless) three-game finale against the Nationals.
The Mets better hope they have the NL East clinched before the final weekend just to alleviate panic in the streets of Flushing.
Yet, they now plan to skip Jacob deGrom’s next start on Tuesday, worried about his 181 innings. Harvey is now at 176 2/3 innings. Noah Syndergaard has pitched 165 innings in the minors and big leagues, which is still 32 more innings than his career high. Veteran Jon Niese has no innings limits, but he is 0-1 with an 8.16 ERA in September.
It’s a little unnerving for Collins that the only two starters he can throw out there without worrying about any sort of limits is rookie Steven Matz, who just returned after a two-month absence with a muscle tear in his back, and 42-year-old Bartolo Colon. Matz is 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA in September, Colon is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA.
“It’s hard,” Collins said. “It’s hard. We’ve waited five years to be in this situation. And now you’ve got your No. 1 pitcher, you’ve got to watch what he does. Your No. 2 pitcher, we’re skipping. Your No. 3 pitcher, we’ve already skipped. In a pennant race.
“But it’s for the best of all of them. It’s for the best of the organization. And so you suck it up, and move on, and get ready for the next day.”
Yet, what’s not best for the organization is the Harvey Rules.
The Mets, even if they want to be cautious in his last two regular-season mini starts, must come up with a defined game plan for Harvey in the postseason.
Start Harvey in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Dodgers, and let Harvey, agent Scott Boras, and all of the doctors know, there will be no limitations. Take it, or leave it.
If Harvey pitches a complete game, or even if he goes only six, and Harvey decides that he doesn’t want to risk damage to his arm after returning from Tommy John surgery without pitching an inning last year, you shut him down for the rest of the year.
If the Mets advance to the NL Championship Series and Harvey decides he wants to make one start, go ahead and pitch him in Game 3 or Game 4, again, with no limits.
If the Mets happen to make the World Series, then it’s Harvey’s call whether he wants to be part of it.
“I want you to understand something,’’ Collins said after the game, trying to ease the frustration and angst over Harvey, “this kid is still a tremendous competitor. Tremendous. Regardless of what he’s been told, what he’s been told to say, what he’s been told to do. He’s a tremendous competitor.
“Moving forward, I want this kid on the pitching staff.”
So, of course, do his teammates. The Mets haven’t been to the postseason since 2006, and who knows when they’ll get there again.
“I think we’d like to have Matt on the mound,” David Wright told reporters after the game. “He wasn’t. And I guess we have to deal with that.
“It’s not ideal.”
They just won’t deal with that in the postseason.
Harvey must pitch with no limits, or don’t pitch at all.
It’s his choice.
The Mets, and everyone else, will have to live with his decision.
GALLERY: Playoff matchups, as they stand now