Tag: Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey Comments on Recovery from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Surgery

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey watched his 2016 campaign come to an abrupt end when he was forced to undergo season-ending surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, but the 2015 National League Comeback Player of the Year sounded optimistic regarding his return when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. 

According to ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin, the 27-year-old confirmed he’s on the mend and feeling strong on the mound after the surgery “involved removing a rib so that muscles constricting a nerve that bridges the neck and shoulder had space to relax.”

Specifically, Harvey confirmed he’s no longer experiencing numbing sensations in his right throwing hand. 

“My hand was really cold all the time,” he said, per Rubin. “I’ve got some warmth back and no more tingling. The ball is coming out really good right now, especially for December.”

Harvey also expressed optimism regarding his ability to bounce back following a shaky statistical 2016 season precipitated by nerve issues. 

“I’d like to think so. Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball,” Harvey said, per Rubin. “The way things are feeling now, the way the body feels, I’m feeling great.”

In 17 starts last season, Harvey went 4-10 with a career-worst 4.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. In fact, it marked the first time in Harvey’s career that he posted an ERA above 3.00. 

Harvey, of course, is no stranger to rebounding following injury woes. 

The 2013 All-Star missed the entirety of the 2014 season after he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, but he rebounded in 2015 by going 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 188 strikeouts and 37 walks over the course of 29 starts. 

Based on that precedent and the steady rate at which Harvey has seemingly recovered over the past five months, it won’t be a surprise if he returns to the mound and assumes dominant form once again for a Mets team that will have its eyes on reclaiming the NL East crown. 

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Matt Harvey’s Latest Season-Ending Surgery Puts Bright Career at Crossroads

NEW YORK — On the day the New York Mets announced Matt Harvey will have his second major surgery in four years, Ron Darling brought up Tim Leary’s name.

“He had some of the best stuff I’ve seen,” said Darling, who joined the Mets in 1983, Leary’s second big league season.

Leary had great stuff. In part because of injuries, he didn’t have a great career.

Harvey still could.

What happened this week was another tough break, with Harvey learning he has thoracic outlet syndrome and will need surgery that will cost him the rest of this season. But season-ending is a long way from career-ending.

When I relayed what we know about Harvey’s condition to a friend who once worked as a major league athletic trainer, my friend predicted a strong recovery.

“I’d still draft him on my fantasy team for next year,” he said.

Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, said by phone that he regards this week’s developments as “positive” news.

“We finally know why Matt’s command has been off,” Boras said.

Thoracic outlet syndrome may not be that well known by average fans, but plenty of pitchers have had it, and plenty have come back from it. Boras said Harvey was diagnosed with the neurogenic form of the ailment, meaning the impingement in his shoulder affects the nerves rather than the blood flow.

That helps explain why Harvey can still throw a baseball 98 mph, as he did Monday against the Miami Marlins. It also explains why he often hasn’t been able to throw it where he wants, with a walk rate (2.4 per nine innings) that is up considerably from last season (1.8).

The nerve impingement made it hard for Harvey to find a consistent arm slot. By removing the rib that has pushed against the nerve, doctors will create more space for the nerve, and theoretically allow Harvey to get back to having a consistent delivery.

There are plenty of examples of pitchers who have come back strong from similar surgeries, starting with Kenny Rogers, who had it done at age 36 and made three more All-Star teams. Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter the year after he had the surgery.

But surgery is surgery, and this will be two big ones for Harvey, before he ever throws 200 innings in a major league season (he had Tommy John surgery in 2013). Any team looking to commit money to Harvey will know that. Clubs will also know the biggest risk factor for any pitcher is a history of getting hurt.

That’s all hugely significant for the Mets, because they won’t have Harvey for the rest of 2016 and probably don’t have him as a possible trade chip this coming winter. It’s hugely significant for Harvey, because he has less time to establish himself as dependable before free agency arrives after the 2018 season.

Back in July 2013, around the time Harvey was starting the All-Star Game and before the Tommy John surgery, he did an interview with David Amsden of Men’s Journal in which he talked about how big a star he was and wanted to be in New York.

“I could buy a place now, but I’ve gotta wait for that $200 million contract,” Harvey said then. “If I’m going to buy an apartment, it has to be the best apartment in the city.”

He didn’t get that $200 million contract then, and he’s not getting it right now, either. He could still get it in 2018, but teams don’t give deals like that to pitchers who can’t get through a season.

Forget the money for now, though, because this is about a lot more than money. This is about a pitcher who even opponents enjoy watching—a pitcher whose body once again has gotten in the way of him getting to the mound.

“It’s just not a good feeling,” said Max Scherzer, the Washington Nationals right-hander who would have pitched against Harvey on Saturday night (and will now face Logan Verrett instead). “I want to beat the Mets and Matt Harvey. I want him out there.”

Scherzer said his heart aches for Harvey—a sentiment similar to the one Darling expressed Friday. Any of us can feel for a player who gets hurt, but those who have pitched in the big leagues understand the emotions better than we ever can.

“Matt has been to heights few have been,” Darling said. “But the only way to have a great career is to be able to sustain it. I have great compassion for him. I just hope he has better luck.

“He’s young, he loves to do something and he can’t do it.”

And that’s why when Mets manager Terry Collins described Harvey’s mood Friday as both disappointed and optimistic, I totally got it.

Based on what we know about his condition, he should be optimistic about a successful return. Based on two major surgeries in four years, he should be extremely disappointed and cautious as he views the future.

What happened this week doesn’t necessarily threaten what still could be a great career. But it sure does burden Harvey with another big obstacle to overcome.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Matt Harvey Injury Update: Mets SP to Undergo Season-Ending Arm Surgery

New York Mets ace Matt Harvey will undergo surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in his right arm and will miss the remainder of the 2016 MLB season, his agent Scott Boras announced Friday.

Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reported the news, and Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball noted Harvey has been having trouble feeling his fingertips all season.

Boras commented on the surgery, per Rubin:

The doctors clearly recommended that he have this done, mainly so that he can be ready for ’17. The rehab on this is six months. Now, if there was a small window of a season, you might be able to take a shot. It’s actually Botox, which relaxes the muscles. That’s not a long-term solution.

The only way this is going to be treated appropriately — and obviously we don’t want to do anything to affect next year — is to get this surgically taken care of.

Harvey tweeted his disappointment about the diagnosis:

Harvey, 27, went 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 17 starts. He struck out just 76 batters in 92.2 innings and struggled with his command and velocity throughout much of the year.

The Mets placed him on the disabled list Wednesday after he complained of shoulder pain. Harvey left Monday’s start against the Miami Marlins, having given up six runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings. It was the second straight game Harvey failed to make it out of the fourth inning.

Dr. Robert Thompson diagnosed Harvey with thoracic outlet syndrome Thursday, at which point he was presented with the option of surgery or taking a nerve blocker. Surgery offers a four-month time frame before Harvey could pitch again, while the injections could have brought him back to the rotation at some point this season.

“It’s unclear how effective that would be or for how long,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said, per Rubin. “… I do believe that surgery is probably inevitable and more a question of timing than anything else. So, obviously, to the extent that we’re backed up for a period of time, it begins potentially to encroach on 2017 as well.”

The Mets (47-38) are in second place in the NL East and are trying to build on a surprise World Series appearance last year. Harvey was one of the biggest reasons for New York’s ascent, earning NL Comeback Player of the Year honors after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Questions may now arise about Harvey’s usage during that 2015 campaign. As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, Harvey’s 216 innings (including postseason) were the most of any player in his first year back from Tommy John. Boras and the Mets had a disagreement behind the scenes last season about Harvey’s usage; there was concern about his going over a 180-inning limit set by Dr. James Andrews.

While the injuries are different, some will no doubt draw the line and conclude Boras was right to look out for the best interest of his client.


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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Matt Harvey Injury: Updates on Mets Star’s Shoulder and Return

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with discomfort in his right shoulder. He will miss the rest of the season because of thoracic outlet syndrome. 

Continue for updates.

Harvey Out for Season

Friday, July 8

Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, said the pitcher would miss the rest of the season to undergo surgery on his thoracic outlet syndrome, per Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. 

Harvey Comments on Injury

Thursday, July 7

My shoulder’s dead, my arm’s dead, there’s no energy there, I couldn’t feel the ball,” Harvey said after his last start, according to manager Terry Collins (per Wagner).

Harvey Placed on DL

Wednesday, July 6

The Mets announced Seth Lugo was recalled from Las Vegas to fill Harvey’s spot on the roster.

Harvey No Stranger to Injuries

The setback represents just another injury woe for the ace, who has struggled with consistency throughout the 2016 season.

Harvey dealt with a blood clot in his bladder in late March, but it didn’t prevent him from taking the mound on Opening Day. However, the 2015 National League Comeback Player of the Year didn’t look like himself over the first month of the season.

He went 1-3 over his first four starts with a 5.24 ERA, 14 strikeouts and eight walks. Some poor mechanics may have been to blame.

According to Newsday‘s Marc Carig, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey was “collapsing his back leg in the stretch,” which hindered his consistency.

All told, Harvey is 4-10 this season with a career-worst 4.86 ERA, 1.486 WHIP, 76 strikeouts and 25 walks.

Manager Terry Collins can take solace in the fact that he has one of the strongest rotations in baseball to help compensate for Harvey’s absence. Between Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Bartolo Colon and Steven Matz, the Mets have enough firepower to keep opposing batters at bay.

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Matt Harvey vs. White Sox: Stats, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey appeared to break out of his slump Monday, as he threw a gem to defeat the Chicago White Sox 1-0.  

Harvey, who entered the afternoon at 3-7 in 10 starts with a dreadful 6.08 ERA, tossed seven innings of shutout ball while allowing just two hits. The victory pushed the Mets to 29-21, which is a half-game back of the National League East-leading Washington Nationals.

New York’s Twitter account highlighted Harvey’s strikeouts: 

CBS Sports’ Jonah Keri praised the beleaguered veteran:

The New York Post‘s Mike Puma noted that this was the first time Harvey made it past the sixth inning this season:

He also showed flashes of his old velocity, per ESPN’s Adam Rubin:

The game was scoreless until Neil Walker blasted a solo home run to left center field in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The White Sox have now lost seven straight.

Coming into the game, Harvey’s struggles were the major focus. After the 27-year-old’s rough outing against the Nationals on May 24Newsday‘s David Lennon suggested the team should give him some time off to rediscover his game.

“Since the Mets still are trying to come up with a concrete plan for how to fix Matt Harvey, maybe a good start Wednesday would have been to hand him a notebook and pen,” Lennon wrote. “That way, as Steven Matz took apart the Nationals with surgical precision, Harvey might learn something from his seat in the dugout.

However, Mets manager Terry Collins has stood by Harvey throughout this season and trusted his All-Star starter to break out sooner rather than later, per NJ.com’s Joe Giglio:

I believe as we continue, Matt’s going to get better. I think he’s going to bounce back,” Collins said. “A year ago, we were concerned that his velocity wasn’t there, his slider wasn’t there. Then by mid-summer he was back. I expect the same thing to happen again this year. I think in a few weeks we’ll look up and Matt Harvey will be back.

If Monday was any indication, Collins may be right. Harvey had full command once more and looked like a legitimate star.

New York already has aces in Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, so pitching depth isn’t a concern. Despite Harvey’s slump, the club is still third in the MLB in team ERA. If Harvey can get going, the Mets will challenge the Chicago Cubs‘ claim to having the strongest pitching staff in baseball.


Postgame Reaction

Collins reaffirmed his belief in Harvey following his team’s win, courtesy of New York’s Twitter account:

He went on to say that Harvey’s performance is promising for the Mets moving forward, according to ESPN.com’s Danny Knobler.

I think today is a first big step, Collins said. He feels good about the way it went. He feels good about the way he threw the ball. Now we’ve just got to build on it, and stay as positive as we can and have him repeat it. No matter what the results are, if he repeats this kind of performance with stuff, I think we’re on the right track.

Harvey appeared satisfied that the work he put in to reverse his struggles yielded positive results, per the Mets:

SportsCenter noted that it has been a while since Harvey carried his team to such a close win.

His teammates hope that Harvey’s performance will instill some confidence back into the ace, per Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber.

“It helps when you go out there and throw seven scoreless,” David Wright said, per Rieber. “You get a little of that cockiness back. That’s what we’ve been accustomed to seeing and kind of spoiled us the last few years.”

When he has his best stuff, Harvey is nearly impossible to beat. Other top pitchers, such as the Boston Red Sox’s David Price, were able to turn their seasons around after slow starts, and Harvey has the ability to do the same. 


All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com. 

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Terry Collins, John Ricco Comment on Matt Harvey’s Struggles

After considering demoting starting pitcher Matt Harvey to the minor leagues, the New York Mets‘ leadership has agreed to stick with him at the MLB level.  

ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reported Wednesday that Harvey will make his next start at home this coming Monday against the Chicago White Sox. Rubin’s report featured comments from Mets manager Terry Collins and assistant general manager John Ricco regarding the Harvey situation.

Collins expressed a desire to see Harvey bounce back from the adversity and use it to light a competitive fire under him to return to his 2013 All-Star form:

This guy is too big a piece to write him off, to flip him in the bullpen to where you’ve got to pick and choose when you might use him. …

He was the best in baseball [in 2013]. That’s the guy we’re trying to get back instead of ‘woe is me.’ What he did last year, there’s going to be a period he’s got to recover. … That’s where I want the fight. That’s where the fight has to be. Quit fighting yourself and just understand we’re a support team here. We’re in this together.

Ricco spoke about the potential demotion to the minors working out for others but insisted New York made the right call by letting Harvey work out his issues where he is:

We believe the best way to get him back is to have him keep pitching and keep making progress and stay up here in the big leagues. …

Some big-name guys have gone down, and that has worked. So I don’t think there’s this huge stigma about that. I think at the end of the day we’re looking for whatever is the best path. He’s part of that decision-making process right now.

A strong 2015 campaign saw Harvey post a 13-8 record with a 2.71 ERA. Making it all the more impressive was the fact he missed all of the previous season due to Tommy John surgery.

But this year has been a far different story. Harvey’s ERA has soared to 6.08, resulting in a 3-7 record through 10 starts. In Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to the Washington Nationals, Harvey yielded five runs in five innings, including three homers.

The good news is New York has the luxury of a loaded pitching staff that helped the Mets rank third in baseball in team ERA at 3.15 entering Monday’s game against Washington. If Harvey were pitching to his typical standard, New York would be even better in that category.

Few teams have the depth the Mets do to allow Harvey the opportunity to continue starting, and he has the talent to justify the risk.

The good-faith move New York made to trust Harvey—rather than demote him, place him on the disabled list or skip a start, which were the other alternatives, per Rubin—should pay off for the club and its 27-year-old pitcher in the long run.

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Matt Harvey’s Nightmare Plunge to Rock Bottom Should Force Mets’ Hand

Matt Harvey, the one they call the “Dark Knight of Gotham,” has become a riddle in need of a solution.

For the New York Mets, that should involve taking him off the mound. At least for a little while.

The only positive takeaway from Harvey’s latest start is that he didn’t get booed off the mound this time. Squaring off against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Tuesday evening, the 27-year-old right-hander surrendered five runs in five innings in a 7-4 Mets loss. He walked two and gave up eight hits, three of which landed in the cheap seats.

Harvey has now surrendered at least five earned runs in three straight starts, bumping his ERA up to an ugly 6.08. That could make anyone look like a bad pitcher. But next to the 2.53 ERA he managed in his first three seasons, it makes him look like a broken pitcher.

This is typically where we go to the latest update from the man himself on where the cracks are, but Harvey had no explanations for the media following Tuesday’s game. In fact, David Lennon of Newsday is among the many who reported he had no words at all:

Even without hearing it from Harvey himself, though, it’s plenty clear at this point he’s not himself.

It’s not just the bad ERA that sticks out. He’s gone from striking out over a batter per inning in his first three seasons to striking out only 7.5 per nine innings in 2016. He’s also gone from allowing 0.6 home runs per nine innings to more than twice that at 1.4 per nine innings.

One of the root causes of Harvey’s sudden hittability has been hard to miss. His fastball doesn’t have the same zip it had in 2015. Brooks Baseball has its average release speed down from an average of 96.5 miles per hour to an average 94.9 miles per hour. 

Harvey’s stuff also just hasn’t looked the same to the naked eye. His average spin rate would seem to confirm that, as Baseball Savant confirms it’s also down from 2015:

  • 2015: 2,263 rpm
  • 2016: 2,217 rpm

It’s impossible to consider all this without casting a glance at Harvey’s 2015 workload. After missing all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he returned to pitch 189.1 innings in the regular season and another 26.2 in the Mets’ World Series run. Terry Collins, Harvey’s manager, and Scott Boras, his agent, have entertained the idea he could be feeling a hangover effect from all that work in 2016.

Harvey has avoided playing that card. He’s instead repeatedly pointed his finger at his mechanics. Most recently, he even tried to get back on track over the weekend with an impromptu throwing session on the Citi Field mound, where each throw could be digitally tracked for further analysis.

“For me it was good that once I started feeling like I was throwing the ball correctly and comfortably, it was all the same,” Harvey said of the session, via Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. “I think in my last 20 pitches, I had a very consistent arm slot.”

Whatever Harvey supposedly figured out, though, didn’t translate to Tuesday’s start. Brooks Baseball can show he couldn’t keep a consistent arm slot. And at an average of 94.2 miles per hour, his fastball was even slower than usual.

That brings us to the crossroads the Mets now find themselves at with Harvey. They’ve tried letting him pitch through his struggles, but that hasn’t worked. They’ve tried to help him iron out his mechanics, but that hasn’t worked either. From there, their options only get more drastic.

Whether they like it or not, they have to pick one.

Sending Harvey down to the minors to get himself squared away is the nuclear option. As Marc Carig of Newsday reported, the Mets considered that even before Harvey’s latest dud.

But that obviously didn’t happen. And as Carig senses, nobody should be bracing (or hoping) for that to happen now:

Fair enough. It would be extreme for the Mets to go straight to the nuclear option. It would also do no favors for a relationship that’s already had contentious moments. Considering they’d like to get at least two more good years out of Harvey before his club control runs out at the end of 2018, it’s not yet worth it to risk that.

Skipping Harvey’s next start, however, is the least the Mets can do.

Rubin’s report on Harvey’s throwing session mentioned the Mets thought about doing so after the Nationals shelled him last week. After Tuesday’s game, he senses the wind blowing that way again:

This is the logical next step. If the Mets are lucky, it’ll be enough to rest Harvey’s arm, smooth out his mechanics, clear out his head and fix whatever else may be ailing him.

If not, the Mets will have to devise a way to take him off the mound for more than just one start. The best way to do that would be to “find” an injury and place him on the disabled list for a couple of weeks. If there is indeed nothing physically wrong with him, that could at least cure what could be (and probably is) badly shaken confidence.

The silver lining of all this must be kept in focus. Harvey’s struggles have been ugly, but he hasn’t dragged the Mets to the bottom with him. They’re still enjoying some of the best starting pitching in the league, and their 26-19 record puts them only a game-and-a-half off the Nationals’ pace in the NL East. Even with him weighing them down, they’re still a good team.

But for the Mets to go as far in 2016 as they did in 2015, they need Harvey to be himself again. And since waiting for that to happen on its own has failed, it’s time for plan B.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Matt Harvey vs. Nationals: Stats, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey had a Thursday night to forget. Against the Washington Nationals, he was pulled after 2.2 innings. He allowed nine runs—six earnedon eight hits with a pair of walks. 

It was a record-setting night for the fourth-year pitcher, as ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin pointed out:

ESPN Stats & Info showed that it was even worse than just a short outing:

Mets manager Terry Collins said the team could skip Harvey’s next start, per Rubin on Thursday:

We’re going to take a look — is that best for him, is that best for us? We’re not going to commit to anything at this time. But I will tell you, as I sit here today, I’d certainly trust him. I certainly believe in him. I hadn’t seen him struggle like this before. But that guy that pitched tonight for them [Stephen Strasburg], he had a couple of mediocre years, and now he’s resurged.

However, Collins decided against that Friday. “We really think he’s got to get back on the horse, as fast as he can,” he said, per ESPN.com’s Danny Knobler.

In such a big game against a division rival, Harvey’s year continued to spiral out of control. He entered Thursday night with a 3-5 record and a 4.93 ERA, which has now ballooned to 5.77, much to the disgust of Sirius XM’s Adam Schein:

Harvey had a chance to get out of the first inning unscathed, but with two outs and two strikes on former Met and postseason hero Daniel Murphy with a runner on first, Harvey hung a curveball that the Washington second baseman launched:

The wheels fell off in the third inning when Harvey induced a ground ball from Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded. But the sure-handed Asdrubal Cabrera lost the ball on the transfer, and the Nationals plated a run to make it 3-1. 

Anthony Rendon socked a two-run double, and Wilson Ramos added a two-run single. In the blink of an eye, it was 7-1. 

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo couldn’t sugarcoat things:

To put the icing on the cake of Washington’s big inning and Harvey’s nightmare outing, Ben Revere, who was 5-for-52 heading into Thursday night, tripled in two more runs to make it 9-1. 

That was all for Harvey, who was relieved by Logan Verrett. Newsday‘s Marc Carig never saw Harvey in a worse state:

Once the jewel of the Mets’ promising young rotation, Harvey was booed off the mound when he was taken out of the game. MSG Network’s Alan Hahn, who is not a Mets fan, soaked up the struggles:

Harvey wasn’t living up to his Batman-inspired nickname, The Dark Knight, in the eyes of ESPN.com’s Kevin Van Valkenburg:

Newsday‘s Arthur Staple was expecting something in writing from Harvey:

But Fantasy Insiders’ Davis Mattek thought Harvey was past that:

The Mets are now poised to drop two of three games to their division rivals in their first series of the year if they don’t pull off a miraculous turnaround. That will also put them 2.5 games back of first place in the National League East. 

This is something that could give the Nationals some big-time confidence as the season progresses, too. A performance like this could give them the feeling that they can take care of the Mets, unlike last year, when Washington lost the division in the second half of the season.

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Matt Harvey’s Struggles Have Impact Beyond Present-Day Mets

The New York Mets had every reason to plan on Matt Harvey being one of baseball’s best pitchers this season. When healthy, he generally hasn’t known how to be anything else.

But now the Mets should find themselves inching back toward the drawing board. And not just so they can change the section marked “2016 Plans.”

Harvey was indeed supposed to be part of a starting rotation that, as Zachary Levine highlighted at Fox Sports, had a chance to feature the best homegrown crop of pitchers in history. But with a 4.76 ERA in six starts, the Dark Knight has been more like the dark blight.

For now, this is but a minor blemish on the 17-10 Mets. Because of the 2.50 ERA that Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon have posted in their 19 starts, the Mets rotation still has the third-best ERA in baseball. That rotation will also get Zack Wheeler back eventually, and scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem for the Mets offense.

But lest anyone entertain the notion of the Mets turning into an absolute world-beater when the Dark Knight returns, the trouble is that the word “when” implies certainty.

Early though it still is, bad luck doesn’t work as an excuse for Harvey’s poor start. There’s one area where something is clearly wrong: After averaging 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings en route to a 2.53 ERA between 2012 and 2015, he’s averaging only 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings this season.

This is not accidental. The right-hander’s average fastball velocity of 94.1 mph is still good but also a huge departure from last year’s 95.9. His slider’s velocity is down as well, and Timothy Finnegan of SB Nation’s Amazin‘ Avenue highlighted how it has lost more than just velocity. As a result, hitters are hitting Harvey’s two best moneymakers at a .312 clip, according to Baseball Savant.

Looming like an ominous specter are the 216 innings Harvey worked in his return from Tommy John surgery last season. Scott Boras, uber-agent and talking enthusiast, expressed his concern to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post about whether his 27-year-old client is feeling that workload now.

The bright side, such as it is, is that the man himself feels fine physically.

“My body doesn’t feel bad,” Harvey said this week, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “I don’t feel tired. I don’t feel any downside from the workload last year. It’s just right now, I’m in a little funk with my mechanics, and we’re working to get rid of that.”

Blaming mechanics is straight out of “Good Baseball Excuses 101,” but Harvey could be telling the truth. As reported by Marc Carig of Newsday, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen already has his finger on the problem:

If Harvey can get his mechanics squared away, perhaps his power stuff will return and Dorothy will wake up and realize this was all just a bad dream.

But that may be a pretty big if. Though it’s the year-to-year velocity loss from 2015 to 2016 that stands out, Brooks Baseball can show that Harvey’s velocity has been on a rocky road since peaking in 2013:

Smoothing out this rocky road may require a favor from Father Time rather than a mere mechanical tweak. Though Harvey’s not old, he may not be young enough to defy an aging curve that, as Bill Petti of FanGraphs found in 2012, starts robbing starting pitchers of velocity once they get past their mid-20s.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Harvey is hereby doomed to be one of baseball’s worst pitchers forever. His stuff is still pretty good, after all. And if nothing else, a mechanical tweak could solve a location pattern that’s featured too many mistakes.

Harvey’s vintage Dark Knight self, however, could very well be gone for good. On a longer timeline, that comes with both good news and bad news.

The Mets may have dodged a bullet by not signing Harvey to an extension when the idea was floated around during spring training. Harvey was open to it, but his status as a Boras client and his upcoming free agency after 2018 likely meant his extension couldn’t have been for less than market value.

With the Mets’ notoriously messy finances and a collection of other young stars who will also need extension attention before long, locking up Harvey might have created more problems than it would have solved.

But just because the Mets dodged that bullet doesn’t mean Harvey’s struggles are a good thing for their future. That’s obvious to the extent that a team never enjoys having a fallen ace on its hands, but this is also a case where the Mets can no longer look forward to getting Harvey off their hands.

Remember, the idea of trading him was also in the air this past offseason. And it made sense to a degree. Dealing Harvey was a logical way for the Mets to subtract from a strength (pitching) to help what was then a weakness (offense).

What the Mets did instead was keep Harvey and shock everyone by bringing back Yoenis Cespedes. This was arguably the right idea, as one general manager told John Harper of the New York Daily News that the best time to trade Harvey would be the following winter.

“In my experience, his value wouldn’t be that much greater three years from free agency rather than two,” the GM said. “In this case, his value could be even higher next year, after a second year back from Tommy John. But if you want to maximize the return on him, you do need to make a decision at that time.”

Harvey’s value on the 2016-17 market would be higher not just because of a second straight season of healthy pitching, but also because of the lack of ace pitchers (it’s Stephen Strasburg or bust) available in free agency. And if Cespedes were to take advantage of the opt-out on his three-year contract, the Mets could trade Harvey for a cheaper, better and/or more controllable bat.

But this ship is sailing further and further out to sea with each start he makes. And the way things are shaping up, this could become a genuine problem rather than a minor annoyance.

With Cespedes once again hitting everything in sight, he probably can’t wait to exercise his opt-out at the end of the year. If trading Harvey for an impact bat to replace him isn’t an option, the Mets may have to pony up the big bucks to bring Cespedes back again. And since that would mean less money to earmark for their core stars, they may decide to let him go and take the hit.

Bottom line: The Mets should be able to survive Harvey’s struggles this season, but he may already be dooming them to be a worse team beyond 2016. He’s unlikely to serve them as an ace either in their rotation or on the trading block.

This wasn’t the plan, but you know what they say: The best-laid plans of mice and Mets often go awry.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Matt Harvey Injury Update: Mets SP Reveals He Had Blood Clots in Bladder

New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey had blood clots in his bladder, which forced him to get scratched from a spring training start, but they have now passed.

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported it is not considered serious. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News noted Mets general manager Sandy Alderson stated Monday that Harvey’s availability for Opening Day was in question while he worked through the medical issue.

DiComo said Harvey expects he’ll be “completely fine” to kick off the season Sunday night in a World Series rematch with the Kansas City Royals.

The news is a positive turn following a day of wild speculation after the Mets announced Harvey would miss Tuesday’s spring training start due to a “non-baseball medical issue.” The lack of details led to plenty of questions.

Luckily, it ended up being a relatively minor setback. DiComo provided further information about the issue:

Marc Carig of Newsday reported the pitcher wasn’t happy “reading some pretty nasty things about what it could be.”

Harvey, 27, sat out the entire 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He didn’t miss a beat upon returning last year, however, posting a 2.71 ERA while striking out 188 batters in 189.1 regular-season innings across 29 starts.

Looking ahead, Matt Ehalt of the Record said the current plan is for Harvey to throw a couple of innings Wednesday to prepare for Opening Day.

The Mets are stacked with ace-level starters for 2016: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Harvey. Cagey veteran Bartolo Colon provides leadership, and Zack Wheeler is targeting a June or July return from Tommy John surgery.


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