One thing is abundantly clear right now, and it’s that Matt Harvey is no longer a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues after another abysmal outing on Thursday night against the Atlanta Braves.
Harvey allowed six runs on eight hits, a walk and four strikeouts in six innings of work. Harvey really struggled early in the game giving up three runs in each of the first and third innings.
The former ace is now 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and has allowed four home runs in 21 innings. The one good thing he’s done is limit his walks, only four this year, though his command in the strike zone has off with all of his pitches seemingly.
After the game on Thursday Harvey insisted he’s a starting pitcher, “I’m a starting pitcher. I’ve always been a starting pitcher and I think I showed in the fifth and sixth inning that I could get people out still in the fifth and sixth inning when my pitch count gets up, so I am a starting pitcher.”
Harvey did retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced on Thursday (and what else do you expect him to say) though his struggles are obviously not limited to last night or this year. He was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball last year with a 6.70 ERA and 1.69 WHIP.
Velocity is at an all-time low for Harvey right now according to Brooks Baseball, his fastball is averaging only 93.05 mph. It’s the third fourth straight year he’s seen a dip in velo but was still at 96.46 mph in 2015, 95.39 mph in 2016 and 94.42 mph last season.
Harvey has tried changing his usage of pitches, throwing his slider a career-high 27% of the time this year after setting a career-high last season at 23%. The problem is the increased usage of the slider isn’t stopping the league from crushing his fastball, they have a .577 slugging percentage against it this year following .587 SLG% last season.
The league is also hitting .292 off Harvey this year and he’s allowed a 43.1 hard hit percentage which is well above the league average of 33%.
So the question becomes what to do with Matt Harvey, post Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Matt Harvey, this obviously isn’t the same pitcher we saw in 2012-2013 or even 2015 when he returned from Tommy John surgery.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway doesn’t know what they’re going to do with Harvey currently, “We’re not real sure what’s going to happen with our rotation once Vargas come back.”
Veteran lefty Jason Vargas is scheduled to throw a rehab start on Sunday for the St. Lucie Mets and is expected to join the Mets after that, assuming he comes out of the start healthy.
The Mets do have an off day next Monday meaning they could skip Harvey’s next start without needing a fifth start then decide if they want Matt to start in San Diego or they could go with Vargas. Right now, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz have certainly earned their rotation spots over Harvey.
Beyond that, they could try to move Harvey to the bullpen, a role that he’s never pitched in before in the big leagues or minor leagues.
Lastly, you could try to send Harvey to the minor leagues in hope of him working on his command or preparing him for a relief role outside of major league hitters. The problem with possibly sending him to the minors is that Harvey has 5+ years of service time meaning he can refuse the assignment. If he chose to refuse the assignment, the Mets would then have to keep him on 25-man roster, trade him or release him.
Harvey, a free agent following the season, could very well be looking at his final days as a major league starter for the New York Mets.