Mets Diamond Notes: Kelly Shoppach Activated, Matt Harvey’s Innings Limit

By Matt Musico

A day after making a waiver wire deal with the Red Sox that netted the Mets back-up catcher Kelly Shoppach, the backstop was activated in time to take the field in last night’s ballgame in Cincinnati against the Reds. Although it seems like a day late and a dollar short for fans to watch the Mets make a move for the right-handed bat they were looking for in July, I suppose it’s better late than never.

Bringing Shoppach over now allows them the opportunity to see how he fits in with the rest of the club and how he handles the pitching staff for the remainder of the season. He’s finishing up the one-year/$1 million contract he signed with Boston over the winter, and will once again become a free agent this winter. With him already being with the Mets for the rest of 2012, it should be easier for New York to agree to another deal with Shoppach. However, even though he said it’s great to have a team interested in you, he wants to have a chance to win as well. In order to make room for him, New York optioned back up catcher Rob Johnson(.250/.298/.288) back to Triple-A. In 48 games played with the Red Sox in 2012, Shoppach is hitting .250/.327/.471 with 5 homers and 17 RBI.

Much like they have stated with number one pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, the Mets have said that they will be limiting Matt Harvey to 170 innings this season. So far in 2012, Harvey has thrown 133.1 innings with Triple-A Buffalo, and has notched 22.1 IP since being called up to the Big Leagues. With almost 156 innings pitched under his belt, it looks as though he has two, possibly three starts before he shuts it down and looks toward 2013. Unlike the Stephen Strasburg situation, this is a good move by the Mets, as they look to preserve Harvey as much as they can moving forward. He’s been getting a nice taste of what life is like in the Majors, and what we’ve seen from him gives us some encouragement for the future.

Terry Collins told the media that he’s planning on implementing a modified six-man rotation in order to give Johan Santana and Chris Young some extra rest coming off their injuries from last season. However, he stated that R.A. Dickey would not be used on short rest at any point throughout the last month and a half of the season, and unlike the others, will stay on his normal schedule. Jeremy Hefner will re-enter the rotation as the sixth man, as he is 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA in six starts this season. Those numbers are deceiving, as Hefner has pitched much better since he was called up last month to fill Santana’s rotation spot while he was on the disabled list.

Implementing a six-man rotation to get Santana and Young more rest makes sense in theory, but it’s puzzling that Collins felt now was the best time to do so. He also added another wrinkle to the conversation, and said that no starter will be getting more than five days of rest between starts. So, having to juggle an extra man in the rotation while keeping Dickey on regular rest will prove to be interesting. Creating this begs me to ask the question as to whether Santana is healthy right now. Collins lumped Young into the conversation, but despite being inconsistent on the mound, there has not been one time this season that it’s looked like he’s been unhealthy, just Johan. However, we’ll see tomorrow if Santana was just rusty in his last start, or there is something else going on with him.

Collins was asked last night after their 6-1 loss if the offense is struggling so much because it was so dependent on David Wright‘s production. His response:

"“I would answer that by saying I didn’t think they were. We haven’t done much lately and maybe it’s time for some breaks for some guys.”"

Some players definitely deserve some breaks, but it’s quite obvious that as David Wright goes, so does the New York offense, and of late, they haven’t been going anywhere. They went 46-40 in the first half, and Wright posted a .351/.441/.563 line. They’ve now gone a horrendous 9-22 in the second half, and he’s hitting .241/.336/.440. Coincidence? I think not.