Mets will skip Matt Harvey’s final first-half start

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Matt Harvey has thrown his last pitch of the first half, as the Mets announced that they’ll skip his final first-half turn in the rotation Saturday.

Harvey threw a career-high 121 pitches Monday and has been dealing with a blister on his right index finger for several weeks, so this is an easy way for the Mets to limit his workload. Of course, it also clears the path for Harvey to start the All-Star game Tuesday at Citi Field.

Harvey finishes the first half with a 2.35 ERA in 19 starts and a league-leading 147 strikeouts (with just 28 walks) in 130 innings. Carlos Torres will get the spot start Saturday in his place against the Pirates.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.