All the talk about limiting the innings of his young starters has become fairly aggravating for New York Mets manager Terry Collins.
Another strong performance by fill-in Logan Verrett might further ease his tension after a win Monday did.
The Mets haven’t missed a beat when Verrett has stepped in for Matt Harvey, and he’ll start in place of Jacob deGrom on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
Collins pushed back deGrom to give some rest to the struggling NL Rookie of the Year, who is at 181 innings. Whereas deGrom doesn’t have an innings limit, Harvey’s was 180 according to agent Scott Boras because his client is pitching his first season following Tommy John surgery. Collins admitted to being "disturbed" about having to remove Harvey after five innings Sunday, when the ace reached 176 2-3 despite being skipped twice in recent weeks.
Verrett (1-0, 1.91 ERA) admirably replaced him both times in his only major league starts. He had eight strikeouts in eight innings of one-run ball to beat Colorado on Aug. 23, then allowed a run and three hits in five innings of a 4-3 win over Miami on Sept. 14. The 25-year-old rookie walked one batter each time.
"I have all the faith in the world that if we need to spot start again, he’s the guy because he throws strikes," Collins said.
The right-hander was pulled after 63 pitches – only 16 of which were balls – but should be allowed to go deeper Tuesday. He’s also made 11 relief appearances for New York (85-65).
"I’m just going to go out there whenever they tell me to take the hill, get outs and put up zeros," he told MLB’s official website.
Verrett could put up plenty against the Braves (60-91). Atlanta lost 4-0 in Monday’s series opener after managing three hits in six innings against Jonathon Niese, who had an 8.77 ERA in his previous five starts. The Braves have 10 runs over their last seven games without a homer as they remain stuck on 88, 23 fewer than any other team.
New York has 61 homers since Aug. 12 – second-most in baseball – with Yoenis Cespedes hitting 17. He’s gone six games without one but has broken an 0-for-19 slump with three doubles and a single in his last five at-bats.
Rookie Michael Conforto hit his fifth homer in his last 54 at-bats with a first-inning solo shot Monday, shortly after receiving the Mets’ minor league player of the year award. Daniel Murphy had two hits, including a two-run double, and has a 1.038 OPS with eight RBIs in his last eight games.
The win provided relief for Collins amid the innings controversy and after New York had lost four of five, including two straight to the Yankees.
"We needed this one bad," Collins said.
Matt Wisler (5-8, 5.63) hasn’t won since July 26, going 0-7 with an 8.08 ERA in his last nine starts and losing the past six. The 23-year-old rookie has been dreadful on the road all year with a 7.78 ERA in nine starts, getting shelled for 14 runs in 4 1-3 innings over the last two.
However, his last two games were six-inning outings at home that encouraged manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"In his past couple starts, he’s been aggressive," Gonzalez said after Wisler held high-powered Toronto to four runs Thursday.
His prior start was a good one against the Mets, as he held them to two runs even though Cespedes and Conforto each went 2 for 3. Wisler’s other start against New York was his victorious major league debut June 19, when he yielded one run in eight innings.
Both games, though, came at home. Atlanta is 4-28 on the road since July 8 and 1-6 at Citi Field this year.