NEW YORK -- Though he refuses to look into his "crystal ball" to come to conclusions about his young pitchers, Mets manager Terry Collins did admit he hopes for an early September return for Steven Matz. When the Mets are confident in the health of Matz's left lat muscle, they plan to once again elongate their rotation.
On the disabled list since July 9, Matz will meet with doctors Monday to determine if he can resume throwing. If he can, Matz will start a process that New York envisions ending with him providing valuable innings down the stretch, where winning could prove as much a concern as the Mets conserving their young starters.
Matz's ascension from the Minors initially allowed New York to dive headfirst into a six-man rotation. Matz wasn't only excellent, posting a 2-0 record and 1.32 ERA over three starts, but his presence allowed management to monitor the innings of its other pitchers without hindering the quality of the rotation.
Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom are on pace to pass 170 innings in early September. They have averaged a smidge more than 33 innings per month, and more than 6.5 per start. Between the Majors and Minors, Noah Syndergaard is just 15 innings away from his career high of 133.
"Their competitiveness is leading them to dominate," Collins said. "When you dominate, you throw more innings."
Matz met with doctors July 26 for the first time since he was shut down, but he wasn't cleared to throw. Once he is, Matz will need to clear various hurdles before he is activated, including general baseball activities, flat ground work, bullpen work and at least two rehab starts.
New York plans to use a spot starter in the near future, before Matz's return. Candidates include Triple-A Las Vegas pitchers Logan Verrett and Dillon Gee.
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.