After what could only be described as an uneven performance, comments by right-hander Matt Harvey as well as pitching coach Dan Warthen had social media ablaze with consternation, strife and untold drama.
On Wednesday afternoon, Harvey allowed two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Marlins, tossing 67 pitches and reportedly living in the 92-93 mph range while topping out at 95 mph. Harvey gave up five hits, walked one, and struck out three. After three starts his ERA sits at 7.88.
Harvey was unconcerned about his spring performance thus far or the lack of velocity. But it was what he said after the game that raised some eyebrows.
“You can’t look past it,” Harvey said about his velocity. “It’s going to be there or it’s not, and I have to go out and pitch. I think after today, I feel really confident going into my next outing and moving forward.”
“It’s kind of a new surgery for me,’’ Harvey said about his procedure for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. “I’m not looking to throw 100 miles per hour again, or 97 even. My job is to get people out no matter what I’m throwing.’’
Harvey is correct of course, Cooperstown is full of pitchers who couldn’t throw a 98 mph heater. And on that point Harvey remains very optimistic as his primary focus is to get his mechanics and command back to where they once were.
“I think it’s more about being able to slow the game down and stay within my mechanics. Although the outcome wasn’t very good today, for me, the success that I had mechanically today was really exciting,” Harvey told reporters.
Dan Warthen spoke to Marc Carig of Newsday and tried to alleviate some of the concerns about Harvey, but also warned is could be a long while before Harvey regains his strength and velocity.
“He’ll probably have to pitch there for awhile,” Warthen said. “Most history says that somewhere around 10 months out of surgery is when you get your full strength back.”
If you’re looking for a glimmer of hope from Warthen, he has no doubt that Harvey can be effective at 91-93 mph. “I know he can pitch with what he has right now.”
My feelings are that there’s still time for Harvey to get another one or two ticks on his fastball. He probably has three more starts left this spring and a lot can still change. If he can start the season at 93-95 instead of 91-93 this won’t be the problem a lot of people think it is.
Maybe Harvey is right and he may never hit 99 or 100 on the radar gun again, nobody knows what the aftermath of his surgery will be. Which makes his ability to become a better pitcher all the more important. So far everyone is happy with his mechanics, his offspeed pitches, and his attitude.
At some point in their careers all hard-throwing pitchers like Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will eventually start to lose some of that high octane. The great ones are the guys that learn how to pitch by honing their craft, changing speeds, and improving their ability to locate their pitches.
On the plus side, Harvey was never just a thrower and we’ve seen what a great pitcher he can be. So if he can keep moving in the right direction with his mechanics (I’m 100 percent with Warthen on this), Harvey could definitely be that top of the rotation guy we’ve come to depend on.
I’m betting that by opening day we’ll see a much more stronger and much more confident Matt Harvey… And when Harvey’s confidence is riding high he’s one of the best in the business. Look for that swagger to return.