Miguel Batista, Not Matt Harvey, To Start for Mets Saturday

By Matt Musico

There wasn’t an official announcement from either Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson as to who will be starting Saturday’s game at Citi Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it seems quite clear that Miguel Batista will get the start over pitching prospect Matt Harvey. Although Harvey only gave up 3 hits in his 6.2 innings pitched Monday night against the Toledo Mud Hens, it looks as if his lack of command (four walks allowed) is the main reason as to why the Mets are holding off on his promotion at this time.

It was apparent that Harvey has a Major League-ready fastball and curveball, but his still developing changeup that is why he won’t be making his MLB debut this weekend. It’s not as if he didn’t perform tremendously under a great amount of pressure in Buffalo this week, but the front office has decided to go with Batista and allow Harvey at least a few more starts to continue developing his third pitch. He’s only been throwing his changeup with a new grip for about six months now, and even though his command has come a long way since he began, he didn’t show a lot of confidence in the pitch when he got himself into jams late in the game in Monday.

I did feel that Harvey pitched well enough to earn a promotion this week (and I still do), but I understand the route the front office wants to go. When Dillon Gee went down with his injury and these rumors about promoting Harvey started, the first thing Terry Collins said is that they don’t want to set Harvey up for failure by rushing his development. So, if allowing him two or three more starts to get his control under control (no pun intended there), then so be it. Everyone wants Harvey to stick around in the Mets rotation for years to come, and if a couple extra starts will help ensure that happens, then I’m all for it.

As for Batista, we know what we’re going to get from him. In 18 innings pitched as a starter, he’s 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA, and 1.56 WHIP. Before he went down with a back injury in Toronto, he enjoyed his best start of the year against the Brewers, throwing seven shutout innings. So, there is the opportunity that he can fill the empty rotation spot left by Gee for a couple weeks before Harvey is deemed worthy of a promotion.

In staying with our top pitching prospects, Alderson stated on Mike Francesa’s show that there is “no scenario” where Zack Wheeler will be pitching in the Major Leagues in 2012. The Mets GM stated that it’s not because he wants his top prospect to make one step at a time on his way to the Majors, but there isn’t a need for him. With Harvey waiting in the wings, there are no rotation spots left for Wheeler to fill, and he won’t hinder his overall development to turn into a reliever for the rest of this season. He will be promoted to Triple-A very soon, and that’s where he should stay the rest of the season.