“We’re all interested in Matt’s progress, obviously. But we don’t intend it to be a story line in 2014. The thing that maybe I should try to make clear at the very outset of this camp is that the story for 2014 is not Matt Harvey.” – Sandy Alderson, February 13, 2014
General managers say the darnedest things… Alderson’s attempt to quell the Matt Harvey story quickly disappeared five days later when a Mets VP was spotted chasing down Andy Martino in Port St. Lucie as he was attempting to interview the Mets righthander. Just another amazing backfire in a long season full of them.
That was then and this is now…
1. All three believe this team is very close and will contend for a playoff spot next season.
2. All three intimated that spending isn’t everything and high payrolls are so overrated.
3. We’re getting back Matt Harvey, a difference maker.
Given what was said about not increasing payroll and instead relying more on flexibility (Ex: If we get rid of Player X and Player Y we might be able to afford to add Player Z), there’s a very good chance that the return of Matt Harvey will be the biggest addition the Mets will have in 2015.
I was reading an article by Hardball Times that collected exhaustive data and research on recovery from Tommy John Surgery, including the major study conducted by the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Analyzing the performance of 147 pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery in the last 10 years, they concluded that pitchers perform worse in the season they return to the majors.
“The first season back from Tommy John is by far the worst for the pitcher, with all major stats headed in the wrong direction. By the second year, most stats have stabilized, except strikeouts. It’s not surprising to see strikeouts decline, since velocity is also declining.”
This is not intended to alarm you, but only to point out the risk in relying on Matt Harvey as a difference maker in 2015.
The good news is that Harvey is young and that by the third year removed from TJS, pitchers in his age group actually had increased performance levels across the board.
Stephen Strasburg is one case where his return was phenomenal. At 21-years old, the had reconstructive surgery after blowing out his pitching elbow near the end of his rookie season in 2010. Now, three years later and despite decreased velocity, he has emerged as the ace of the Washington Nationals rotation. And more importantly, he’s had no setbacks while experiencing three years of gradual increased performance levels.
Getting back to the point of this post, is the return of Matt Harvey coupled with basically the same offense, enough for the Mets to secure a post season berth next season? Is Matt Harvey the difference maker that the Three Amigos seem to think he is? Or will it require more?