When the New York Mets decided to shut down Matt Harvey after only ten starts last season, baseball fans across the borough of Queens must have had that uneasy part of deja vu that nobody likes. Understandably, the Mets brass were hesitant to allow their young right-hander to pitch beyond the 59 plus innings that he had already worked, coupled with the team’s recent inability to develop the pitchers that they had drafted, the rookie was told to take a seat.
Heading into to the 2013 season, both Harvey and the Mets had high expectations for the 2010 first-round draft pick and after the 24 year old threw his second, one-hitter of this young season on May 7th against the White Sox, it seemed as though those expectations were well founded.
Now, as the future of the team’s rotation has gone four straight starts without a win or even a decision, the discussion as to whether or not Harvey should once again be asked to sit out has started all over again. Despite throwing well and giving his team the opportunity to win games, Harvey (4-0, 1.44 ERA), is fighting for a team that is hitting just .231 and ranks ninth in the National League in runs scored. In fact, the former Tar Heel hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts this year and owned an ERA of less than 1.00 through his first three outings of 2013.
Recently however, Harvey does seem as though he has lost some velocity on his pitches, most evident during his last start this past Sunday against the Pirates. Unfortunately for all concerned, Harvey is rapidly approaching 60 innings in a season that isn’t even half over, a definite problem considering that he was benched after just over 59 innings last year. Now, with the Mets (14-21) sitting six and a half games out of first, fourth in the N.L. East ahead of only the Miami Marlins (11-27), the team is seriously considering another rest for their best and most promising pitching prospect since Doc Gooden.
To be fair, the similarities between Gooden and Harvey are minimal at best. Other than the fact that both hurlers carried the future of the franchise on their shoulders every time they take the mound, both are overpowering and filled with potential. That’s where the comparisons end.
If Harvey were indeed allowed to continue at the pace he’s currently on, by the end of the 2013 season, just his second in the majors, he will total just over 230 innings of work in 33 starts. Between the 2012 and 2013 season, that’s an increase of at least 60 innings and one that’s not often made with young pitchers. With the Mets seemingly headed for a summer filled with inconsequential games in July and August, is the franchise right in resting their prodigy rather than risking the health of their young ace?
Mets Assistant General Manager Paul DePodesta recently gave ESPN.com a somewhat vague idea as to what the team is planning to do with Harvey.
”It all depends on the individual and the composition of his individual rankings.”
Thanks for the insight.
Of course, it’s so early in the year that the thought of benching the starting rotation’s ace based on how poorly the Mets are doing now, seems almost impractical to many including myself. The fact does remain however, that Harvey is winless in his last four outings after starting the year with a 4-0 record and has two, one-hit performances to his credit thus far.
Whether or not the Mets decide to allow the young Matt Harvey to continue his season at the current pace, only time will tell. As of now, Harvey will make his next start this Friday afternoon in Chicago against the Cubs. Having gone winless since April 19th, the eyes of the franchise will be watching every pitch that the young right-hander throws and hopefully for baseball fans everywhere, we’ll have more than half the season ahead to watch this prodigy shine.