It’s somewhat amazing that in 2015 we could still be using innings as a barometer to measure season-long arm stress.

Yet, over the course of the season, maybe because a number in the thousands is far more difficult for a layman to contextualize than a number in the hundreds that we’ve seen thousands of times throughout our baseball-following careers, we look at innings to evaluate stress, not pitches.

And it’s dead wrong. There’s a reason the Mets have been saying the 180 innings agent Scott Boras and Dr. James Andrews want to limit Harvey to is a soft number: inning limitations are an inexact non-science.

Harvey has capped his innings either at or around 180, presumably because he threw a career-high 178 1/3 back in his rookie 2013 season before tearing his UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now, he is approaching that number, but have those innings been as stressful as the ones in 2013? Not nearly.

Harvey threw 2,724 pitches during 2013, per BrooksBaseball.net, 286 more than this season. That’s about three starts’ worth of pitches. And those pitches haven’t even been as stressful.

The Mets’ debatable ace was throwing 23 percent fewer sliders than he did pre-surgery heading into Tuesday night’s game, according to Fangraphs’ PITCHf/x data. Sliders are worse on the elbow than fastballs because of the torque and side-to-side motion they require.

But even the most modest of baseball fans knows that each inning is not created equal. A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 frame isn’t the same as a 27-toss, four-run failure where the leadoff runner gets on and you have to pitch out of the stretch the entire time.

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ESPN’s Adam Rubin has reported the Mets will actually use Harvey regularly down the stretch but only for “half-outings, with another pitcher being used after Harvey for multiple innings.” That would give him three more half-starts, beginning Sept. 20 against the Yankees, but it wouldn’t even bring him to his career-high pitches thrown. In that sense, Harvey, without much or any postseason moderation, could only top his career-high number negligibly — if he even gets there. And if that’s the case, maybe we should all calm down just a bit.

Fred Katz blames his low high-school batting average on New York City’s rules against aluminum bats. He has been also published at FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, ESPN and Grantland among others. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.

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