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Inbox: Return to rotation in Harvey's future?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from Mets fans
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

Winning two out of three in San Diego didn't completely quiet the skeptics of the first-place Mets, but it certainly didn't hurt. The Mets return at Citi Field on Tuesday for a six-game homestand, during which they'll look to establish a bit of pitching consistency. While we wait, it's time to dig back into the Inbox:

What would Matt Harvey have to show, and for how long, for manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland to consider moving him back into the starting rotation?
-- @realmrmac via Twitter

Winning two out of three in San Diego didn't completely quiet the skeptics of the first-place Mets, but it certainly didn't hurt. The Mets return at Citi Field on Tuesday for a six-game homestand, during which they'll look to establish a bit of pitching consistency. While we wait, it's time to dig back into the Inbox:

What would Matt Harvey have to show, and for how long, for manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland to consider moving him back into the starting rotation?
-- @realmrmac via Twitter

In a way, this is less about Harvey and more about the context. If Harvey pitches well out of the bullpen while all five other starters are healthy and productive, he's not going to budge. If Harvey pitches decently while others struggle, he could return sooner rather than later.

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Time and again, Callaway has said that he mostly wants Harvey to throw strikes -- something he hasn't done yet out of the bullpen, with two walks in four innings. Ideally, a spell in relief will also result in increased velocity for Harvey, which hasn't happened.

What the Mets don't want to do is jerk Harvey back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation. They aren't likely to promote him back until they're reasonably certain there's an extended opportunity awaiting him, which may require an injury to one of the Mets' other starters. For now, the team will try not to overreact to a bullpen sample size of just three outings.

Corey Oswalt looked great in his relief outing, and Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have been studs in relief. Do you think Oswalt is now the next man up for the rotation? Or will we see Vance Worley start before Oswalt?
-- @GRPrudents via Twitter

That depends at least in part on Harvey and on other factors (including some as simple as who's on turn when the Mets next need a starter). But you've touched on something important here. As recently as early March, Gsellman and Lugo were competing for rotation spots, effectively sitting sixth and seventh on the Mets' depth chart. Management has since grown so smitten with their bullpen success that it appears unlikely, at least in the short term, that either will be moved.

If a rotation hole opens over the summer, Gsellman or Lugo could still shift at that time. But for now, the Mets want them in the bullpen, which could result in increased opportunities for folks such as Oswalt.

What kind of timetable do we have on Kevin Plawecki? I'm curious if we'll have him rehab before being back fully, or if he would go straight to the lineup in hopes of getting higher production in that position immediately.
-- @Matt_D_Howell via Twitter

It's been over two weeks since Plawecki fractured a bone in his left hand and he's still walking around with a cast on it, so the initial estimate of around three weeks was probably a bit optimistic. The bad news is it seems unlikely Plawecki will return until mid-May at the earliest, and he will need a Minor League rehab assignment before he's back in the Mets' lineup. The good news is he's used this as an opportunity to work on his throwing, footwork and other catching essentials that don't involve the use of his left hand.

At its core, this is a pain- and grip-tolerance injury. Once Plawecki is able to grip a bat and catch pitches without issue, he'll be back. In the interim -- despite this being the most popular topic in this week's Inbox, by far -- the Mets will continue to roll with Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido behind the plate.

Do you think Wilmer Flores' true potential is not being tapped, a la Justin Turner, because of his super-sub role?
-- @weiner_beth via Twitter

Flores certainly thinks so, as he believes he possesses the chops to be an everyday player. The Mets' front office has long disagreed, believing he's most productive as the right-handed half of an infield platoon, a bench bat on other days and a sometimes-starter against right-handed pitchers. In that fashion, Flores has received over 330 plate appearances each of the past two seasons. I suspect he'll fall into a similar range when all is said and done this year.

Peter Alonso has homered in four straight games for Double-A Binghamton. What are the odds he hurdles Dominic Smith and ends up the starting first baseman by the end of the season?
-- @sethuels via Twitter

Alonso, the Mets' No. 4 prospect, has certainly played himself into a situation where it's possible. The Eastern League's Player of the Week, Alonso hit .545 and slugged 1.136 to win the award.

Smith, of course, has had stretches like that in the Minors as well, and he's heating back up with seven hits in his past three games at Triple-A Las Vegas. This is still Smith's long-term job if he proves he can handle it. But Alonso is rapidly turning into a very intriguing prospect in his own right, which could give the Mets potential trade options down the line.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey