Harvey Made Right Call On Surgery

Mets’ pitcher Matt Harvey unquestionably made the right decision to undergo surgery for treatment of the thorasic outlet syndrome in his pitching shoulder. It was the best option for his pitching and financial future, and to the Mets for the remainder of this season and beyond.

Dr. Robert Thompson is expected to perform the procedure next week in St. Louis. The surgery, which would entail removing one of his ribs, is designed to relieve pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the space between the neck and shoulder. The increased pressure caused numbness in his arm and fingers.

HARVEY: Made right choice (Getty)

HARVEY: Made right choice (Getty)

Harvey’s options were surgery or a nerve-blocking injection, the latter being a temporary solution with surgery eventually required.

Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, whose comments last year on the pitcher’s innings limit created a stir, strongly advocated the surgery to ESPN: “The doctors clearly recommended that he have this done, mainly so that he can be ready for ’17.’

“The rehab on this is six months. Now, if there was a small window of a season, you might be able to take a shot. It’s actually Botox, which relaxes the muscles. That’s not a long-term solution. `The only way this is going to be treated appropriately –  and obviously, we don’t want to do anything to affect next year – is to get this surgically taken care of.”

That’s the understandable driving force behind the decision. This was chosen to set up Harvey for his turn at free agency. Had he chosen the injection and gotten through the season, that would be great. But, if it only lasted a few months and he had the surgery later this year, or in the offseason, or next year, all or most of 2017, could be lost. That would leave Harvey with one year to make an impression on his future suitors when he hits the free agent market after the 2018 season.

And, nobody knows how he’ll pitch coming off surgery. If you’re Harvey – not to mention the Mets or any team that would go after him – you want two years to make an impression. That’s why Harvey’s decision is a no-brainer. But, how does losing Harvey help the Mets the rest of this year?

Knowing the Mets won’t have him in the second half enables GM Sandy Alderson to freely pursue another arm before the July 31 trade deadline, even if it jacks up the asking price. That’s preferable to waiting through at least two Harvey starts before hitting the market late, which would increase the price even more.

This also allows manager Terry Collins to determine his rotation now and eliminates the inevitable questioning and excuse making after each of his starts. And, who would want to see Harvey go down for surgery in a September pennant-race game or the playoffs?

Harvey hasn’t pitched well, going 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts, and this ailment is an obvious explanation. Harvey frequently complained about not having his mechanics, but not having feelings in his arm and fingers could explain a change in mechanics.

However, left unanswered is why Harvey hadn’t complained about a lack of feeling before his disastrous start on Monday. Boras’ answer to that question explains both the good, and bad, about Harvey.

His bulldog approach on the mound, for example, his eight innings in Game 5 of the World Series, is to be applauded. It’s the spirit that defines an ace. That’s the good.

But, here’s the bad, as delivered by Boras.

“He’s felt this way since spring training, but he wanted to gut it out, try to do it, until finally, he’s going, ‘Look, I’m just feeling like I don’t feel the baseball the same.’ Once we heard that, I was like, ‘Maybe we have a TOS situation,’ and got him over to Dr. Thompson.”

Sounds plausible, but it underscores the increasingly, maddening, “I’ll do what I feel like” aspect that has defined Harvey’s short career. It also raises the inevitable question of what could have happened had this been discovered a month or two earlier.

If he had surgery in May or June perhaps he could have come back in late August, or September, or even the playoffs.

We’ll never know.

5 thoughts on “Harvey Made Right Call On Surgery

  1. Literally nothing this guy does, or doesn’t do, or when it’s done or not done, is okay with you.

    On one hand he’s positioning himself for free agency by going under the knife, which any sensible human would try to avoid. On the other, he’s “doing what he feels like” trying to gut it out and pitch this season. It’s amazing to me.

    Should he have told the Mets? Yes. Do we own him as a person? No.

    • Mooney: I don’t understand your point. The title should tell you I’m in agreement with his decision. My responsibility as author of this blog is not to suck up to Matt Harvey, but to call it as I see it. … If you agree with me, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s fine, too.

      Of course, he should have told the Mets. Nobody knows what would have happened had he done so earlier. Denying his wasn’t right physically is lying to his teammates, his manager and management, to the press and the fan base that slurps up all his Kool-Aid without question.

      You’re wrong on this. Yes he’s positioning himself for free agency, which I acknowledge and don’t hold against him. More power to him. The timing of the surgery is best to set him up for free agency.

      As for “doing what he feels like,” not telling the Mets falls in line with what he’s always done. As for as the Mets are concerned, this is something they should seriously consider before pursuing him as a free agent.

      As always, I appreciate you input, whether you agree with me or not. It’s why I do the blog. Best.-JD

      • Matt is a stand up guy after a game
        He doesn’t make excuses and doesn’t throw anyone under the bus

        But if this has been going on since spring he was wrong

        It means he has no one to talk to. Not his parents, coaches, former coaches, teammates, no one
        If you feel numbness that is a problem
        Numb so you can’t feel the ball?
        That is just poor decision making on his part and he has no one he can trust to discuss things.

      • No one asked you to “suck up” to Matt Harvey. What I’m pointing out is that no matter what he does, you vilify him for it. I’m not wrong. You can call things as you see them – key word you – and still be consistently wrong. That’s fine.

  2. So if you show concern for your health you’re “me first” guy but if you try to pitch through it then you’re a “me first” guy too, got it 😉

    This was the right call. EVERYONE got on his back last year for not being a team player when he mentioned concern for his health. EVERYONE said you put your career at risk at a shot at the playoffs. Every time I saw a comment or article like that I asked the person if they would put a quarter billion or half a billion at risk JUST to pitch in the playoffs. The answer is most likely not. Harvey made the right call on this. He tried to pitch through it but he’s not a doctor so I’m sure he never suspected that he had this condition. Once he got more information it was an easy call. Shoulder operations are usually far more concerning to a pitchers career than elbow surgeries so who knows what happens from this point forward.