PHILADELPHIA -- For the second straight night on Wednesday, Kelly Shoppach started behind the plate for the Mets against a right-handed pitcher.
Wednesday's assignment was more a matter of circumstance. The Mets originally believed that they would be opposing left-hander Cole Hamels, before the Phillies scratched him due to illness. But given the option to plug Josh Thole into the lineup when he learned of the switch, Mets manager Terry Collins instead stuck with Shoppach.
"We brought him here to find out if he's going to be a fit," Collins said of Shoppach, who owns a .271 career average against left-handers and a .206 mark against righties. "I think he needs some playing time to find that out."
When the Mets traded for Shoppach earlier this month, Collins indicated that he would start behind the plate almost exclusively against left-handed pitchers. But Shoppach started against a right-hander Tuesday and finished 3-for-5 with a game-tying double and two-run home run, leading his manager to stick with the hot hand.
Then again, the Mets already knew that Shoppach could hit for power when they acquired him from the Red Sox; they were more interested in his game-calling abilities. Collins lauded those as well, saying that Shoppach has "done a very nice job of adapting to a staff that he's never worked with."
"I'd like to think it's going good," Shoppach said of his adjustment. "I've been working hard to get to know these guys. For me, it's more getting to know their personalities, understanding how they tick. They're all talented. Trying to learn what they do well is a challenge, but you can only do that in games. So I think it's important for me to get around and try to talk to these guys every day and try to figure out what they need from me on the mental side of it when we're out there in competition."
Mets firm about Harvey's innings cap
PHILADELPHIA -- Despite the Mets' plan to proceed with a six-man rotation, potentially for the rest of the season, Matt Harvey's innings limit will prevent him from personally reaching the end of September.
Harvey entered Wednesday's start with 146 innings split between the Majors and Triple-A, after throwing 135 2/3 in the Minors last season. General manager Sandy Alderson previously pegged Harvey's innings limit at 165-170 for his second professional season, though manager Terry Collins said Wednesday that the rookie may not necessarily make it that far.
"I've had a lot of conversations with Matt, and he feels great," Collins said. "One of the things about the Minor Leagues is they monitor your workload a lot. They really keep an eye on it. They don't stretch it out and that's just the way the game is. It's changed at the Minor League level a lot, too. These guys are kept under control of their work, how much they throw. So I think there's probably some innings left in Matt, and that's why he feels so good. But I also know pitching in the big leagues has brought some energy to him, too."
A conservative estimate would have Harvey making three more starts, counting Wednesday's effort in Philadelphia, before he reaches his limit. A more aggressive guess would have Harvey making four.
Either scenario would force the Mets to shut Harvey down sometime in mid-September, two or three weeks before the end of the season. It is all part of a plan to keep his arm in shape for next year, in which Harvey should approach 200 innings for the first time in his professional career.
"Does seven innings make a lot of difference? Maybe not," Collins said. "But next year, when we're sitting there saying, 'OK, we'd like to add 35 or 40 innings onto what he did last year,' all of the sudden that seven innings could make an impact."
Even after they shut down Harvey, the Mets may proceed with a six-man rotation. September callups Collin McHugh and Jenrry Mejia will both receive starts down the stretch, and R.A. Dickey should extend the rotation by continuing to start every fifth game.