Matt Harvey Injury: New York Mets’ Ace Considering Season-Ending Surgery For Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

New York Mets ace Matt Harvey could be headed towards season-ending surgery after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. The Mets placed Harvey on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday after the 27-year-old complained of shoulder discomfort.

Matt saw vascular specialist Dr. Robert Thompson on Thursday who diagnosed Harvey with “symptoms consistent with thoracic outlet syndrome,” according to the MLB website’s Anthony DiComo.

Although season-ending surgery is an option for Harvey, DiComo also reported that a non-surgical injection is also a possibility and that Matt is currently weighing his options.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson stated that surgery is inevitable for Harvey, but that he doesn’t necessarily have to have it now. The team and Matt will continue to discuss the best course of action for Harvey and his health.

According to Wikipedia, thoracic outlet syndrome is defined as “a syndrome involving compression at the thoracic inlet, which is known clinically as the superior thoracic outlet resulting from excess pressure placed on a neurovascular bundle passing between the anterior scalene and middle scalene muscles. It can affect one or more of the nerves that innervate the upper limb and/or blood vessels as they pass between the chest and upper extremity, specifically in the brachial plexus, the subclavian artery, and rarely, the subclavian vein.”

Surgery for TOS involves removing the first rib in cases where the first rib is compressing a vein, artery, or nerve bundle. Scalene muscles and any fibrous tissues can also be removed. In situations where a rudimentary rib or cervical rib is the cause of the compression, those ribs can be removed in the same type of procedure.

Matt Harvey wouldn’t be the first starting pitcher to undergo surgery for TOS. Former pitchers Josh Beckett, Chris Carpenter, Shaun Marcum, and Noah Lowry, and current pitchers Chris Young, Jaime Garcia, Matt Harrison, and Clayton Richard have all had the procedure. Young stated in 2014 that he felt “completely different” following the surgery.

If Harvey decides to have the surgery, it would be a huge blow to the Mets’ rotation. Starters Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have already been diagnosed with bone spurs in their elbows, and losing Harvey make the best rotation in MLB extremely vulnerable. New York has already been using Logan Verrett in spot starts and top prospect Rafael Montero has been struggling down at Triple-A.

Zack Wheeler was once thought to be an option to join the rotation following the All-Star break, but he suffered a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and there’s currently no timetable for his return. With no viable options in the organization, the Mets would likely have to work out a trade for a starting pitcher to replace Harvey prior to the 2016 MLB trade deadline on August 1.

Some of the options available via trade would be the Minnesota Twins’ Ervin Santana, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jeremy Hellickson, or even the Oakland Athletics’ Rich Hill. While these are the cream of the crop as far as starting pitchers on the trade block are concerned, none of these guys offer the same sort of potential that Matt Harvey does.

If Harvey is forced to miss the rest of the season, the Mets’ uphill climb to the playoffs would get even harder. Despite his struggles, Matt possesses some of the best stuff of any pitcher in the major leagues and is a leader for this Mets’ pitching staff. Matt Harvey is irreplaceable.

[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]