You could say tonight is the second straight audition for Matt Harvey (left) to get to New York but it looks almost certain he's going, no matter what happens in the Bisons' game against Charlotte in Coca-Cola Field.
Jeremy Hefner was called up after last night's game because Johan Santana went on the disabled list with the team claiming a bad ankle and not a post-no-hitter ERA of 6.54. Hefner pitched three innings today against the Dodgers and is likely to start Wednesday against the Washington Nationals in Citi Field.
Miguel Batista needed 81 pitches just to get through three innings today so Harvey is almost certain to get the call to make his big-league debut Thursday night in Arizona.
Harvey (7-4, 3.34) becomes the fifth pitcher in the IL to make 20 starts this season. He has 106 strikeouts and needs just three to take over second in the league before his expected departure. As of this writing, the Mets have given manager Wally Backman no short pitch count for Harvey.
"He's got to keep working to find a way to get deep in games,' Backman told me this afternoon. "He has done it at times but it's all about consistency. He's gotten better."
In other news today, Backman is giving Valentino Pascucci the night off. The All-Star Home Run Derby champion is batting just .226 on the season, is 2 for 15 on the homestand -- and just 8 for 53 in July (.151).
Pascucci's home run Sunday at Pawtucket is his only one in the last 32 games, a stunning power drop for a guy with 245 career longballs in the minors. There was a lot of pressure and attention on Pascucci at the all-star break and Backman said he looks tired.
"That's my concern in resting him right now, trying to get him a little time off," Backman said. "There's no break for those guys [who make the all-star game). I think it's had an effect on him, from looking at the whole situation. ... It's clear his bat has been a little bit slow."
Quite a different lineup today with Brad Emaus batting leadoff for the first time this year, Lucas May at first base for only the third time, Josh Satin DHing in the No. 5 hole with Zach Lutz moving into the cleanup slot. Here's the full look:
Brad Emaus, 2b
Oswaldo Navarro, ss
Adam Loewen, rf
Zach Lutz, 3b
Josh Satin, dh
Matt Tuiasosopo, lf
Lucas May, 1b
Matt den Dekker, cf
Rob Johnson, c
Matt Harvey, p
Photo: Harvey works Monday night by Mark Mulville/Buffalo News