An MMO Fan Shot by Steve Lastoe
By any measure, Matt Harvey has had a rough season coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) surgery. Statistically, his performance has been nightmarish but if you need a capsule summary of what’s gone on; he’s been re-injured, he’s lost 5 miles off his fastball, and command of his other pitches has been lacking. It has not been pretty by any standard.
Not surprisingly, Mets fans are disappointed, and the media has discussed the possibility of him not being offered arbitration next year in the context of dollars being better spent elsewhere. In a nutshell, the expectations for Matt Harvey have never been lower. The confounding thing is the season we got from Matt Harvey is exactly what we should have expected and next season is what we should have been looking forward to all along.
In 2017, Matt Harvey wasn’t coming back from the now common Tommy John surgery he came back from in 2015 or even the rote bone spur issues that Steven Matz was, he was coming back from something much more serious and much rarer. In fact, only one pitcher has ever pitched effectively the season after TOS surgery, Chris Young.
Chris Young won the 2014 Comeback Player of The Year award while pitching to an E.R.A. of 3.65. Young though had nearly 3 months longer to convalesce and additionally likely had the wisdom and experience a younger pitcher like Matt Harvey might not have. What we need to understand though is that most pitchers pitch poorly after this surgery and none have succeeded without at least a full year’s rest.
In a nutshell, to expect Matt Harvey to have emulated anything like his success of 2015, let alone 2013 coming off TOS was to ignore the performance of every pitcher who has ever had it. Indeed, Harvey’s own injury history may have inflated our opinion of what was possible. Harvey won his own Comeback Player of The Year award in 2015 and to be honest that only reinforced the superhero ideal of The Dark Knight.
In fairness, Matt Harvey has been particularly bad this season, though I think that statistics can only tell us so much about his health relative to his performance. If he is otherwise healthy and it’s possible for him to end his season on an uptick, then I think he should be given the opportunity. However, what he does now hardly matters. He’s unlikely to make himself seem any more reliable than Rafael Montero, Seth Lugo, or Robert Gsellman. He just has a lot more upside than they do next season.
That’s right, next season Matt Harvey will be a Met, at least as Spring Training gets underway.
It makes absolutely no sense to cut ties with him until Spring Training no matter what his salary is after arbitration. If he pitches poorly in Spring Training, the Mets can let him go and pay a small percentage of his salary. If he pitches well, all the better for both him and the Mets. You may remember a similar fiscal calculus was performed with Rubin Tejada before the 2016 season.
Either way, the Dark Knight will have one more chance to rise again in Flushing.
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This Fan Shot was written by MMO Reader Steve Lastoe. Steve is the founder and race director of NYCRUNS. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to FanShot @ MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.