The question must be posed: Does the Mets’ top brass have the stones to leave Matt Harvey off the Opening Day roster? While it is clear Jacob deGrom is ready for the start of the season, it is also painfully obvious Harvey is not.
While exhibition numbers aren’t important, after Harvey was pasted once again today by the Marlins, it is hard to ignore his 0-3 record and 7.88 ERA. That high an ERA is hard to dismiss any time of the year.
Harvey broke into our consciousness in 2012 with near pinpoint control, supreme confidence and a fastball that regularly clocked in the high 90s. Today, an elbow and shoulder surgery later, his confidence as battered as his body, and a fastball in the low 90s, Harvey isn’t close to being the stud pitcher and cartoon superhero character Mets’ fans yearn to see again.
Earlier this spring Harvey said he had no doubt his velocity would return. He was far less optimistic today; he appeared to concede to a new chapter in his career.
“I’m not looking to throw 100 mph., again or 97 even,” Harvey told reporters. “My job is to get people out no matter what I’m throwing, and I’m looking forward to it. [The velocity] is going to be there.”
But, what will it be?
Pitching coach Dan Warthen said the Mets won’t know about Harvey’s physical abilities for several months, claiming he’s guessing May.
“History says with [thorasic surgery] it’s 10 months out,” Warthen said. “That’s when you really start to feel strong. Generally, when you open a season you gain two miles per hour. If he’s playing at 94, 95, it’s a completely different story.”
But, Harvey’s throwing 92 these days at best, which means he basically must reinvent himself, which will be hard to do with another three exhibition starts remaining.
That brings us back to the original question as to whether the Mets if Harvey doesn’t immediately turn it around, would leave him back to get stronger and work on his mechanics. Considering their potential depth with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman – and possibly Zack Wheeler – that would be the prudent option.
The Mets are blessed to have the depth most teams don’t possess, so why not take advantage of it? Assuming Harvey isn’t ready in three three weeks – and that’s what Warthen is saying – it would be better to utilize that depth in April to get him ready rather that use it later if he breaks down.
Harvey won’t like it, but that’s not important. Getting him ready is.