MLB: The Matt Harvey Dilemma

The Mets are in a tough spot with Matt Harvey. In a saga that was briefly touched on in a recent article here on FAM, New York’s other baseball team is a bit of a mess lately, and Harvey is directly in the middle of it all. But to understand just how profound the Mets quandary may be, it’s important to remember how important Harvey looked to their future just a few short years ago.

In 2012, then 23 year old Matt Harvey burst on to the MLB scene. A former third round pick of the Angels, Harvey made his debut in late July of that season for the Mets and struck out 11 Arizona Diamondbacks in just over five innings of work. Harvey had arrived, and for the remainder of that season and 2013, he looked destined to be the cornerstone of the Mets franchise. Over 36 combined starts in 2012 and 2013, Harvey posted a sub-3 ERA, culminating in an All-Star birth and a 4th place NL Cy Young finish in 2013.

Then, as happens with so many young pitchers, the ole’ Tommy John bug bit him, and Harvey had to be shelved for the 2014 season. TJ surgery is no longer a death sentence for pitchers as it was so many years go. In fact, for many, it’s barely even a road block. Sure, the recovery is long and a year is often lost, but pitchers routinely return from the procedure and go on to have long and fruitful careers. And for Harvey, it looked like that would be the case when he returned to the mound in 2015, starting 29 games and posting a 2.95 ERA. Things were looking up for the Mets, as Harvey looked to be the lead horse out of a barn who’s stable was full of young, flame throwing starters.

But then, during the 2016 season, Harvey was stricken with a second affliction to his oh so valuable pitching arm, which lead to a procedure for thoracic outlet syndrome. Before the procedure, when the issue was effecting his results, and after, Harvey has been… Well, bad. We won’t bore you with the numbers, but not only is he not himself, he’s barely even serviceable as a major league-level starting pitcher.

To add insult to the injuries, Harvey’s off-field behavior has also been sub-optimal. Questions about his work ethic and commitment to the game have surfaced in the past, but never more so than what has occurred over recent days. In the aftermath of the recent Noah Syndergaard injury, Harvey was forced into duty on short notice and responded by getting rocked in a start against Atlanta. Reportedly, Harvey’s attitude about having to take the mound that day was an issue. He promptly followed up that incident with another, which resulted in him receiving a three game suspension from the club. After speculation over the reason for the suspension, the news surfaced that Harvey had no-showed for a Mets game on May 6th. No call, no notice. He just no-showed. Initially, Harvey blamed a migraine and a miscommunication with the club, but the Mets saw it differently and suspended him. In the aftermath of the suspension, reports have surfaced that Harvey has had issues with being late before, and has been fined at least once for the same sort of conduct. Harvey has since apologized to his teammates and will reportedly receive in-house counseling from the club.

So, back to the issue at hand. What are the Mets to do? Just a few short years ago, Harvey was seen as an integral part of the clubs future. But with his off the field issues and his on field struggles, is it time for the Mets to consider cutting ties? That’s a tricky question, seeing as how his value has never been lower and their need for him to perform has never been higher. The Mets have been absolutely ravaged with injuries to their rotation this year, and for a team that was expected to compete for the NL East title and was built around the rotation, that’s not going to work. But even if Harvey does return to form, will that even be enough to help this team compete? The Mets may want to hope Harvey rebounds and then cut bait when the trade deadline approaches. Only one thing is for certain; there is no easy answer.

 

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