2018 is going to be arguably the biggest year of Matt Harvey‘s career.
With the righty entering his walk season, there’s a lot at stake. For one, it’s coming at a time when the Mets need him to step up, and two, he wants to show the goods to lock up a big contract this offseason.
The soon to be 29-year-old feels confident, however, as his shoulder feels better than it has “maybe ever” and the ball is coming out better than it has in a long time.
“Finally having a normal offseason and getting my strength back, there’s no reason that I can’t be better than I was before,” he said.
Harvey went 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA, 6.37 FIP and 1.694 WHIP over 92.2 innings for the Mets last season. He also missed a significant amount of time after undergoing a procedure in 2016 to relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
This winter, Harvey was surgery free and was able to workout like normal, leading to a productive offseason.
“If you’re doing rehab all the time, you’re constantly thinking about that, and not able to do your normal leg workouts or core workouts or running or normal upper body lifts to build mass,” he said. “Your throwing program gets messed up, it becomes tough.
When you can get on to a good routine and get your strength training in and also do some prevention stuff, some shoulder strengthening stuff, you really put yourself in a good position to get stronger and continue a good throwing program.”
New Mets skipper Mickey Callaway attributed a good chunk of his struggles last season due to bad habits from after the surgery that led to sloppy mechanics, as well as a weakened shoulder.
“There were a lot of nerve issues going on, and in order for nerves to heal properly it takes time,” Harvey said. “I was trying to push through those nerve issues and create muscle and it was just making things worse. Mentally that’s tough, doing work in the weight room, trying to do the right thing work-out wise, and not getting any results.
“Having that feeling back, being able to develop muscle, and to do those strength programs to develop mass and get back to where I was before, it was nice to have, to have things back to normal,” he added. “My strength in my right shoulder was really down. Throughout the offseason I was able to rest and let the nerves heal, progressively work into a shoulder strengthening program, and this is the strongest my shoulder has felt in well, maybe ever.”
Harvey will earn $5.63 million this year before testing the open waters, but not before going out with a bang. Callaway will try to ensure he bounces back and him and pitching coach Dave Eiland believe he can.
“Anytime your manager and your pitching coach are fighting to keep you on the team and have a lot of confidence and faith in you, it’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said. “Having a normal offseason and normal workouts and getting my strength back up, I think that confidence started coming back already. They kind of had the icing on the cake with really fighting to keep me here, and that made me work a little bit harder.”