How Mets put themselves in hole for Saturday double-header

The Mets have a lot of ground to cover on Saturday and not a lot of arms who can can cover.

ATLANTA — The Mets were hoping for more out of their starting pitcher on Friday night at SunTrust Park, just like they do every night. But this time they needed more and, much like every other night, their starting pitcher couldn’t give them more. 

The Mets and Matt Harvey both are hoping that a performance that consisted of five scoreless innings in a 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park will jumpstart him for his next start, but both parties were honest when they said that five innings the day before a double-header was just not enough. 

“We’ve certainly got to be careful because we don’t know what we’re going to get out of Steven (Matz) tomorrow,” manager Terry Collins said. “It’s one of the reasons we tried to save some guys down there tonight, so we have some able bodies.”

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It’s unclear as to just how many able bodies the Mets have available. Paul Sewald, Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas each pitched one inning with Salas starting the ninth and taking the loss. The Mets did save long relievers Tyler Pill and Josh Smoker. 

For his part, Harvey was contrite, saying he felt as though he had left the team in a difficult spot. His stuff was good and he limited the baserunners, but he fell behind hitters and battled through tough counts. 

“Having good stuff like that, you’ve got to be able to go deeper into the game,” Harvey said. “That’s the only thing that’s frustrating for me about tonight. Especially with a double-header tomorrow, I need to be able to go 6-7 innings at least. And unfortunately, the pitch count added up. I was able to keep runners off the base for the most part and not score any, but I’ve got to be able to go 6-7 innings.”

All season, there’s been a conscious effort by the organization to rebuild Harvey’s confidence following his return from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. And it seems to have been working. Even after bad starts, Harvey has been able to take positives from each outing. 

But at this point, he doesn’t need positivity, what he and every other Mets starter needs is length. Saturday the Mets will roll out one pitcher who hasn’t made a big league start since last summer in Matz, and another who has struggled to go even six innings regularly in Robert Gsellman

Sunday, they’ll give the ball to Seth Lugo, a guy who is still trying to avoid Tommy John Surgery. It’s a lot to ask of these guys right now but it’s even more to ask of the bullpen. The Mets are in a hole this weekend and it’s one that only starting pitching can dig out of. 

“We’ve had a couple days off so we should be rested, but you’ve just got to be careful,” Collins said. “If we go to five tomorrow and he’s out of the bullpen, it’s going to be tough.” 

Abbey Mastracco may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @abbeymastracco. Find on Facebook.