The New York Mets had one of the best second halves in all of baseball, which is why they won the NL East by seven games. In fact, everything was all smiles in New York following the trade-deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes – except, perhaps, that whole innings-limit controversy involving Matt Harvey.

Then again, maybe that whole episode wasn’t as bad as we thought.

“I don’t think everyone was as surprised as they made it seem at the end of August,” former big league manager and current Sacred Heart University athletic director Bobby Valentine said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think they knew going in (that) there was going to be some kid of limit to the amount of innings he would pitch this year, and (when) they started to approach those magical numbers, they put it on the table for everyone to understand what was going on.”

Harvey, 26, sat out the entire 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. This year, he went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and had 188 strikeouts in 189.1 innings.

“I think you have to protect your assets. Matt’s a great asset,” Valentine said. “I think he’s going to pitch this team to a championship. He’s going to be a main cog in their playoff run, even though he’e not going to be the guy pitching Game 1, Game 4 and Game 7. When he’s pitching, he’s gong to be a real quality pitcher. He’s one of the best in the game.”

So, Valentine thinks that Harvey, who will start Game 3 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, will pitch the Mets to a World Series championship. But just to clarify, will that happen in 2015?

“I think so,” Valentine said. “I think that they have the most complete team going into the playoffs. Their lineup is now very dynamic, their bullpen is lights out at the end of the game, and their starting pitching, I think, is the best of any team that’s in the playoffs. They’ve got it all going for them. Hopefully they can stay healthy and not get distracted. They’re going to do some exciting things for the fans in New York.”

We’ll see how things play out, but the Mets might need to get past the Pirates or Cubs just to make it to the World Series. Those two teams – which finished with the second- and third-best records in baseball, respectively – will square off in the NL Wild Card in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60 ERA, 202 strikeouts) will start for the Pirates, while Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA, 236 strikeouts) will start for the Cubs.

Which team has the advantage?

“I don’t think there’s an advantage,” Valentine said. “I think there’s going to be one break that will give one of the teams a victory. They’re both very talented, very athletic teams, and with Arrieta and Cole both hooking horns, it’s going to be that little thing that makes the difference – probably a defensive play or a base-running play that turns the tide.”


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