Dave Righetti did it. So did Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Now, can Matt Harvey make the transition from the rotation to the bullpen? Harvey’s initial response – that he’s pissed off – wasn’t a positive sign, but his subsequent comments are more encouraging.
Harvey, who will be available coming out of the bullpen starting Tuesday, was not happy about the decision.
“It’s the decision that they made,’’ Harvey told reporters. “I have to suck it up and go out there and do everything I can to get things back in gear. I don’t have to agree with it, but I have to go out there and do the best I can to get things going and do everything I can to help this team get back to where I believe I can help this team, and that’s as a starter.’’
Whether he makes it back as a starter remains to be seen, and actually is irrelevant. If Harvey concentrates solely on being a reliever, long or short, it might enhance his value this offseason.
The way the market was last year, relievers were signed earliest and that hold true next winter, as well.
Harvey doesn’t throw as hard as he used to – he’s gone from 96.5 mph., in 2015 to 92.6 mph., this season, which is acceptable for the pen, as long as the pitcher has secondary pitches, which he does.
Former Mets GM Jim Duquette, currently a commentator for SNY, said it is common when a starter moves to the pen that his velocity will increase. And, Harvey has a good enough slider. By all accounts, Harvey has the physical tools and his problem is psychological.
If the Mets concentrate on starting Harvey at the beginning of an inning and limit him getting up and down, he should get the appropriate warm-up time.
Physically, Harvey can do this. If he has the proper attitude and meets with success, this could be the start of the second part of his career. Others have done it, such as Cleveland’s Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer [so Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland] have the experience in helping pitchers make the transition].
If Harvey stops thinking about starting and concentrates on being the best reliever possible, it could work. It’s up to him.