NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey will make the slow walk to the mound on Sunday to start Game 5 of the World Series against the Royals (8 p.m. ET game time on FOX), attempting to save the Mets' season and put a positive cap on what has been a most eventful campaign for the right-hander and his club.
Any back and forth about innings limitations, such a hot topic at the end of summer, has been tossed out the window. This is the finish line for Harvey as a starter this year, and as the Mets take the field desperate to stave off elimination -- after falling, 5-3, in Game 4 and facing a 3-1 deficit in the Fall Classic -- he feels confident in letting his stuff fly in his second crack against Kansas City.
"I think going back to just being on normal rest and kind of having that normal routine is good enough," said Harvey, who will once again match up with Edinson Volquez, as he did in Game 1. "Obviously I love pitching here at Citi Field. They give me great energy. For me, I think it's a lot of excitement, but yet it's still a baseball game, and I still have to go out and do my job."
Harvey blamed himself for the fact that Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium extended as deep into the night as it did. He worked six innings of the Mets' 5-4, 14-inning loss, coughing up a two-run lead in his final frame of a start in which he generated just seven swings and misses out of 80 pitches.
Harvey's pitch selection raised questions, hinting at possible concessions to the Royals' fastball-hungry lineup or the fatigue of a hearty workload in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He threw only 30 fastballs, one of which Alcides Escobar smacked for an inside-the-park home run that fell between center fielder Yoenis Cespedes and left fielder Michael Conforto.
Throwing 20 changeups, 17 sliders and 13 curveballs, Harvey settled in to retire 11 straight at one point, so the audible seemed to have some positive effects. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud said that the decision to lean on offspeed stuff was based in part upon Harvey's command.
"I think it was just kind of how the game was worked out and how things felt," Harvey said. "I felt like I didn't really have the greatest control with my fastball and greatest life. So with a team who's known to hit the fastball well, I think when you lose a little bit of confidence in that, you kind of have to try to pitch a little bit differently."
Harvey believes that he should be sharper on Sunday. He repeatedly noted Saturday that he is pleased that this start will come on regular rest. He had an eight-day layoff before facing the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series and waited nine days to face Kansas City the first time around.
As such, it will be interesting to see how Harvey attacks the Royals' lineup.
Whatever happens over his next handful of innings, the Mets have squeezed more than they expected out of Harvey this year. He now sits at 208 innings (including the postseason), and Mets captain David Wright said he has faith in Harvey to deliver the outing they need.
"You get that win [Sunday], you get a little momentum on your side," Wright said. "It can springboard you into K.C., and you start feeling good about yourself. You start getting that confidence level up, and let's take it to Kansas City and see what happens."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.