That is the unenviable question facing the New York Mets. We know the alternatives at that fifth starter spot are unpalatable. Dillon Gee is not likely to return for months. Harvey is raw- nearly four walks per nine, still learning to harness his secondary stuff- but likely to give the Mets better production than the alternatives.
So what are they to do? How much do they prioritize 2012 over maximizing Harvey’s development, both immediately and in total?
There’s no easy answer here. About the only positive is that this is a decision that will be made by Sandy Alderson and his crew, rather than Omar Minaya and company, who apparently never met a prospect they couldn’t prematurely promote.
From my perspective, this is a defensible decision, no matter which direction the Mets go. It reminds me of the choice whether or not to let Johan Santana continue pitching as his pitch count elevated on June 1, that no-hitter closer with each passing batter.
In both cases, the long-term impact on a pitcher had to be weighed against the short-term payoff. In both cases, the short-term payoff is pretty significant- ending a 50-year curse, making the playoffs for the first time in six years.
The consequences of the Santana decision are still unknown. He had a 2.38 ERA in 11 starts through his no-hitter, a 4.93 ERA in six starts since. And we’ll never really know what the Harvey decision meant, one way or the other.
If he comes up now, and fails to develop into an ace, it might have been the premature call up- or it might have been that Harvey was never going to get there. If he doesn’t get called up, and the Mets fail to make the playoffs, he might have been the difference- or this was a team destined to fall back anyway.
Rest assured, no matter the decision, the Mets will have more time to make it than during the developing in-game situation facing Johan Santana on June 1. It should be re-assuring how much thought they are obviously putting into it. And it is a lovely change that the Mets even have prospects to consider for such an assignment.
If I were voting, I’d probably lean on the side of not promoting Harvey and seeing if I could find a starter rental as a salary dump first. But there’s no real wrong answer here, I don’t think, unless you have a Clarence around to help you decide.