"We need a guy on Thursday," manager Terry Collins said. "He's the guy. If you can pitch in the big leagues, you can pitch in Arizona."
Should all go according to what the Mets hope, Harvey will remain in the rotation not just for the rest of this season, but for years to come. Team officials on Monday were mum about an innings limit for Harvey down the stretch, saying only that they will monitor him going forward. But even if the club backs off his workload at times, Harvey will continue to start every five games as long as he performs.
And so one heralded piece of the future arrived Monday in an otherwise downtrodden Citi Field clubhouse, amidst significant fanfare that the Mets tried to downplay. Scouts around baseball agree that Harvey is not the organization's top prospect -- Zack Wheeler is. But he is in the conversation. Along with right-handers Wheeler, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, the Mets hope that they will manage to develop at least one ace and a stellar supporting cast.
Harvey could ultimately become that ace, even if the Mets have been careful not to heap too much praise on him too soon. As recently as last week, the team deemed Harvey unready for the big leagues, after dispatching a small army of team officials to watch him pitch at Triple-A Buffalo. Harvey endured a bumpy start that night and a poor one the next time out, increasing his Triple-A ERA to 3.68 in 20 starts spanning 110 innings, with a 7-5 record, 112 strikeouts and 40 walks.
But after Miguel Batista struggled in a spot start over the weekend and Johan Santana landed on the disabled list, the Mets deemed Harvey their best option to pitch Thursday's game in Phoenix.
"I think we've tried to make an effort to temper expectations, in part because we can't, nor can the player, guarantee immediate results," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "This is part of a longer-term plan, and the success may come over time, as opposed to immediately."
Still, success has to start somewhere. The Mets hope that for Harvey, it begins Thursday at Chase Field, with his immediate family and a small group of friends in attendance.
"This kid's determined to be successful," Collins said. "I am not worried about him having a bad start or two. He knows it's all part of the process."