Struggling through his first nine outings of the season, right-hander Matt Harvey was a candidate for a demotion to the minor leagues to work on his issues, according to Marc Carig of Newsday.
Coming off his most recent start against the Washington Nationals, giving up a career-high nine runs in a career-low two-and-two-thirds innings, Harvey’s struggles have reached their zenith. At this point, Harvey’s line for 2016 is a 3-6 record with a 5.77 ERA in 48-and-one-third innings. That ERA is just a shade over three full runs higher than Harvey’s ERA last year.
A demotion to the minors was considered, as well as setting all of the belongings in Harvey’s locker ablaze. Carig writes that former Mets reliever Bobby Parnell tried that tactic last season as he went through his own struggles. Yet, the Mets elected to give Harvey the chance to fight through his struggles.
“We got as in-depth as you possibly can get,” manager Terry Collins said to Carig before the Mets’ 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.”We dissected every angle there was. In the end, knowing this guy like we do, he wants to pitch. He wants to fight through it. He isn’t going to run and hide. He wants to get out there. So we’re going to do that.”
In preparation for his next start, — which is scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday against the Nationals in Washington — Harvey threw a simulated game before the Mets’ 5-4 come-from-behind way on Saturday.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 21, 2016
After his disastrous outing on Thursday, Harvey insisted that he’s focused on trying to find an answer to his early season struggles.
“There’s as many answers that I’d like to find as you guys are looking for. Right now, everybody saw the game. I’m not happy about it. I know nobody else is. I’ve got to pick up tomorrow and, like I’ve said all along, start over and keep looking for answers.”
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, there is an outstanding narrative that Harvey is still trying to fully recover from the procedure. Having thrown 216 total innings between the regular season and postseason last year, obliterating the 180 inning recommendation, there’s a chance all those pitches are catching up to Harvey.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) May 9, 2016
Harvey’s agent Scott Boras spoke to FOX Sports‘ Ken Rosenthal about the 27-year-old’s struggles. While many point to Harvey’s physical conditioning being the culprit, Boras shot that down.
“This guy was at our sports fitness institute for six weeks,” Boras said. “And you know what? His lower half is one of the strongest in baseball of any pitcher. This is not his conditioning, believe me.
Boras referenced Harvey’s velocity still being there, despite a decrease from last year. According to FanGraphs, Harvey’s average fastball velocity this season is 94 mph, down 1.2 mph from 95. 2 the previous year. However, Boras mentioned that in Harvey’s last outing, he touched 96 mph twice in the first inning.
Matt Harvey’s fastball has been a huge issue this season. Last year opponents hit.242, this year.336. pic.twitter.com/hrvmuO0sTY
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) May 20, 2016
A scout that has followed Harvey since his amateur days told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that “there’s no deception in his delivery. He is throwing across his body and the hitters are getting a good look at everything.” The scout also noted that “there is no bite to his breaking pitches” and that “his changeup is his best pitch right now.”
Luckily for the Mets, guys like Steven Matz (6-1, 2.81 ERA) and Noah Syndergaard (4-2, 2.19 ERA) have been solid while Harvey, and Jacob deGrom to a certain extent, have struggled.
[Featured Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]