Stephen Strasburg Is Pitching While Matt Harvey Isn’t
Back in 2012, Stephen Strasburg didn’t pitch. Instead, on the advice of his agents and doctors, he sat out the postseason after throwing 159.1 innings in his first season back from Tommy John.
The decision was widely panned. His manager, Davey Johnson, was particularly angry. It didn’t matter as Strasburg, his agent, and the Nationals front office valued his future more than the 2012 World Series, or for that matter, the 2012 NLDS.
Since that time, Strasburg hasn’t had perfect health. Far from it at times. However, he’s still pitching and pitching well.
Since that 2012 season, he’s had two All-Star appearances, and, assuming this year’s vote, he will have three top 10 Cy Young finishes.
He also signed a seven year $175 million contract extension entering the 2016 season. He has an opt out which he is sure to exercise to cash-in even further.
Now, after Game 2, he has a World Series victory as his Nationals team is just two wins away from winning the World Series.
What’s interesting is how Strasburg finally got this opportunity in his third postseason and the fourth the Nationals have been in during his career. It’s all the more interesting he’s at this point after he wouldn’t pitch in 2012.
It’s certainly an interesting parallel to Matt Harvey, i.e. the man who did pitch.
In 2015, Harvey returned from his own Tommy John, and there was controversy.
The controversy was Boras was putting the Mets on notice Harvey was going to exceed the preset 180 inning limit set for Harvey for the 2015 season. The Mets pretended to be blindsided, but they knew all along.
Instead of doing what Strasburg did, Harvey pitched. He’d pitch more than anyone had coming back from Tommy John. His last start was a truly great effort against the Kansas City Royals.
In an interesting twist, in Game 5, it was Harvey, and not the Mets, who insisted on pitching.
When he walked off the mound, we suspected it could be the last time we saw Harvey in 2015. What we didn’t know was that would really be the last time we would ever see Harvey, or at least the real Harvey.
In 2016, Harvey struggled mightily, and he just didn’t look right. Eventually, he’d be diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome leading to his undergoing season ending surgery.
He’d come back before he was really ready in 2017, and in 2018, after a poor start, he’d be designated for assignment before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Devin Mesoraco.
Harvey rebounded enough to get an $11 million deal from the Los Angeles Angels, but after a 7.09 ERA, he was designated for assignment. Harvey couldn’t latch on with anyone until he signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics nearly a full month after the Angels released him.
At a time when Strasburg was winning Game 2 prior to what is going to be a lucrative foray into free agency, Harvey is a minor leaguer just hoping to catch on with someone next year. It’s an interesting dichotomy for these two pitchers.
Strasburg, the one who listened to Boras, is still pitching. He’s going to have a top five Cy Young finish, and based on the first two games of the World Series, he’s going to have a ring.
Harvey, the man who eschewed Boras’ advice to win a World Series, didn’t get his ring. Based on what we’ve seen since that 2015 World Series, it’s fair to question if he’ll ever get another opportunity.
No, we can’t say for sure Harvey’s pitching in 2015 caused his subsequent health problems. Certainly, you can find information which suggests the TOS was eventually going to be an issue no matter what Harvey did.
In the end, it just seems like a cruel twist of fate the pitcher who did all he could do to win a World Series, won’t win one, but the guy who shut himself down in 2012 is halfway there.