The 2017 Matt Harvey Mistake
Before yesterday’s game, Matt Harvey threw from the mound for the first time in what could have been the first step towards a rehab assignment. In fact, after the session, Harvey said, “I’m on track to get back hopefully pretty soon.” (Anthony DiComo, MLB.com).
Of course, Harvey is in this position because he was put on the disabled list with a stress injury to his right scapula. While we cannot state anything with certainty, there is the distinct possibility the stress injury was the result of the muscles in Harvey’s shoulder being roughly half the size of the muscles in his left shoulder. This could stem from the fact Harvey had surgery to alleviate the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), and he was unable to have his typical offseason workouts.
It should be pointed out that Harvey was not expected to be full strength in May. As Pitching Coach Dan Warthen said, “History says with that surgery that it’s 10 months out. That’s when you really start to feel strong. Generally when you open a season you gain two miles per hour. If he’s playing at 94, 95, it’s a completely different story.” (Mike Puma, New York Post).
Harvey was a different pitcher to start the season. He wasn’t just sitting at a lower velocity, but he was also unable to strike batters out. He tired as the season progressed to the point where he wasn’t even hitting 90 MPH anymore. It was at that point everyone had to face the truth – something was wrong.
However, that something wrong began in the offseason. The Mets knew Harvey wasn’t going to be at full strength, and they put him in the Opening Day rotation anyway. They did it because Steven Matz and Seth Lugo had injury issues. He was put in the rotation because the Mets refused to add a veteran depth to the rotation to protect against a rotation with a number of injury issues heading into the season. Frankly, Harvey was in the rotation because he pushed for it, and there was no one standing in his path telling him it was a bad idea.
There was no repeat of the 2015 Scott Boras controversy. The Mets were unwilling to sit back and wait to do what was best for Harvey and really for the team. Harvey being the competitor he is wasn’t willing to wait.
In the end, the Mets got 13 starts from Harvey, and he went 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, and a 6.9 K/9. That’s not Harvey.
Overall, the Mets pushed Harvey forward because they didn’t want to wait for him to be 100%. Harvey pushed because he was a competitor. In the end, it became a forgettable season for both parties. Hopefully, they both learned from this season, and they will be smarter going forward. However, based upon past history, it is unlikely to happen.