Feb 16

What Can We Expect From Harvey?

It’s not surprising Matt Harvey has been an early topic in spring training, but for once the most compelling question about him isn’t: Will it ever happen for him?

We are six years removed from 2012 when Harvey made his major league debut with Cy Young expectations. We may never see that Harvey again, and but I believe his thoughts this year are more about his contract year than it carrying the Mets.

HARVEY: What to expect from him? (AP)

            HARVEY: What to expect from him? (AP)

Ken Davidoff, the very talented baseball columnist for The Post, wrote about Harvey “just trying for a graceful exit,’’ and he couldn’t be closer to the truth.

Seriously, does anybody really believe Harvey will suddenly pitch injury free all year, win up to 17 games, and NOT leave the Mets next winter as a free agent?

I’ve always thought he’d bolt for the Yankees the first chance he got, but maybe they won’t want him. Even so, I’d be shocked if he pitched healthy and well and stayed with the Mets. It doesn’t even matter if he signs with the Yankees or not, he’s gone.

So far, the first impression of manager Mickey Callaway is a good one. I especially liked when he said: “He might never be the Dark Knight again, but the Mets don’t need that from him. … We need the best version of who Matt is today, and that person is going to be good enough.’’

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but that has to be Harvey’s motivation. He must take measured steps and that begins in spring training.

Don’t rush him, just concentrate on the mechanics Callaway said he could fix. It could take time, something Harvey wasn’t given last season.

Last spring, in his comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, Harvey was clocked throwing in the mid-80s, then pitching coach Dan Warthen said not to expect from him to reach his full strength and his velocity to reach the 90s until the end of May at the earliest.

Of course, that didn’t happen because GM Sandy Alderson ignored him and had Harvey on the Opening Day roster. Since Harvey was forced to pitch earlier than he was physically able, and, broke down again.

In addition to his physical breakdowns, Harvey has been a diva and hasn’t always treated his teammates well, such as blowing off a game and being suspended.

Harvey played it smart when he said: “New year. People make mistakes.  I’m looking forward to a new season.’’

However, he unwisely didn’t address free agency and will undoubtedly be asked about it numerous times despite him saying he wouldn’t respond to the question.

Instead, he should have said, “I have thought about it. I am open to returning to the Mets [even if he isn’t, a lie is better than a no comment]. This the only time I will address it this season.’’

He did say: “I’ve got a lot left in the tank.  I’m ready to go.’’

Personally, I hope it doesn’t reach that stage. I hope it reaches the “graceful exit,’’ Davidoff wrote about, but I think I think the best thing for both sides is for Harvey to prove he’s healthy, pitches well and is traded at the deadline.

The Mets are hedging their bets on Harvey, which explains in part why they signed free-agent lefty Jason Vargas to a two-year, $16-million contract.

Vargas is 35, and the Mets gave him the extra year in preparation for Harvey leaving, whether in July or next January.

 

Jul 16

Mets Wrap: What’s Wrong With Matz?

The Mets know what was wrong today with Steven Matz, but what they don’t know is why. Matz gave up seven runs on nine hits in one-plus innings in the worst start of his short career.

After Matz put the Mets in a 7-0 second-inning hole, pitching coach Dan Warthen went to the video tape and reported back to manager Terry Collins that everything was out over the plate.

MATZ: What's wrong? (AP)

MATZ: What’s wrong? (AP)

That told Collins that although Matz was throwing hard, his pitches lacked movement and his location wasn’t there.

“I don’t care how good your stuff is, you can’t do that in this league,’’ Collins said.

The Rockies scored four in the first and three in the second on Nolan Arenado‘s homer.

Matz seemed shell-shocked.

“It all happened so quick, to be honest,’’ Matz said. “The balls were just over the heart of the plate, and they were able to get their barrels to it. I was giving them a chance with where I was missing.

“It’s just not the way you write it up. It’s frustrating, but I’ve got to flush it. I got another start coming up in five days, and I’ve got to prepare for that and try and learn from my mistakes here and just keep going.’’

But, he said something similar after the Cardinals ripped him in his last start prior to the break. Considering, this funk hit Matz all at once, and that he spent the first two months of the season on the disabled list following elbow surgery, possibly he hit a physical wall.

It’s been two bad starts. Will there be a third?

Jun 16

How Mets Derailed Harvey’s Comeback

Stuff happens, but why does it always seem to happen to the Mets? Let’s not disregard GM Sandy Alderson as a possible explanation. That’s certainly the case with Matt Harvey‘s recent trip to the disabled list for stress to his shoulder that is the cause for his tired arm.

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

ALDERSON: Bears responsibility for Harvey. (AP)

When Harvey’s fastball barely touched 90 in spring training, pitching coach Dan Warthen said following thoracic outlet surgery one couldn’t expect him to be at full strength until the end of May. On March 15, I wrote if the Mets had the guts to leave Harvey off the Opening Day roster. They did not, of course, which isn’t surprising.

If Harvey wasn’t going to be full strength until May, then why was he on the Opening Day roster? Manager Terry Collins doesn’t make those decisions, Alderson does.

Perhaps there was a sense of urgency on Alderson’s part because neither Steven Matz nor Zack Wheeler were expected to be ready for the Opening Day roster. Even so, that’s not a good enough reason. Just because one player is injured and not ready it doesn’t give Alderson license to rush another player who isn’t ready.

Alderson had the authority to keep Harvey behind and chose not to. As far as Harvey goes, he’s staring at the end of his career and certainly wouldn’t rock the boat regarding his treatment.

The bottom line is that once again an issue involving Harvey was mishandled, but this time it was the Mets’ doing.

 

 

 

Jun 14

Harvey Has Tired Arm

Mets manager Terry Collins turned to his pitching coach, Dan Warthen, in the third inning after a Matt Harvey pitch and asked, “What was that pitch?”

The radar gun read 89, and Warthen said he thought it was a slider, but wasn’t sure.

“Well, we better find out,” said Collins, who was concerned about his starter, who gave up back-to-back homers to Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ to open the game.

Warthen reported back, telling Collins it was a fastball, but Harvey also told him his arm felt tired. Collins decided to give Harvey at least another inning, which could have proven costly after Kyle Schwarber’s monster homer over the Shea Bridge.

The amateur diagnosis is a fatigued arm, or dead arm, but the Mets will get something more official after he’s examined Thursday.

“It’s pretty tired,” Harvey said of his arm. “My arm wasn’t working at all. It’s frustrating to be taken out that early. It’s very difficult. There’s been a lot of discomfort. It’s been pretty hard on me physically.”

Harvey threw 104 pitches in five scoreless innings in his last start, but gave up four runs on three homers in four innings in tonight’s 9-4 victory over the Cubs.

Things haven’t been easy for Harvey this year following thoracic outlet surgery last year. Harvey used to be overpowering, averaging at least one strikeout an inning, but has only 54 in 70.1 innings this season. He’s also given up 67 hits and 35 walks for a lofty 1.45 WHIP, and 16 homers in 13 starts.

GRANDERSON HITS MILESTONE: If there is a positive about Yoenis Cespedes’ lingering leg issues since coming off the disabled list, it is giving Curtis Granderson more playing time. After battling back to tie the game at 4-4, Granderson hit the 300th homer of his career to jumpstart the Mets’ five-run eighth.

TODAY’S INJURY: Expect Neil Walker to go on the disabled list Thursday with a hamstring pull.

 

 

 

Jun 02

Mets Wrap: Harvey Doesn’t Have It

After a rough start, the Mets’ Matt Harvey struck out five of six hitters to provide the illusion he might have turned things around. However, that stretch became the illusion to give credence to speculation his last start was more smoke than substance, if not a fluke.

It’s hard to believe Harvey’s 31-pitch first inning was his high point as he ended up giving up six runs on five hits and four walks in five innings in taking the loss in losing to Pittsburgh, 12-7, tonight at Citi Field.

HARVEY: Didn't have it. (AP)

HARVEY: Didn’t have it. (AP)

Once again, it was Harvey’s inability to locate his fastball and command his secondary pitches. In short, nothing worked for Harvey, now 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA.

“Last week he was so good,” said manager Terry Collins said. “There are times when you have to battle through it.”

Coming off thoracic outlet surgery, pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-June at the earliest that Harvey would regain his velocity. Well, he’s topped out at 97 several times but was consistently in the low 90s tonight.

`My location wasn’t there,” Harvey said. “When you score seven runs you should win the game. … My location was off. I felt good (physically), but the location was off.”

However, regaining his pinpoint command has been another issue. It was clear in the first his command was off by the high pitch count, and further underscored by a leadoff walk and three runs given up in the fourth.

After Lucas Duda’s homer gave the Mets a lead for a second time, Harvey helped give it back again with a leadoff homer by Josh Bell and walk to Andrew McCutcheon in the sixth.

Why Collins let Harvey come out for the sixth is beyond me.

BULLPEN LOSES IT IN SIXTH: It’s hard to figure out what Collins was thinking as he left Paul Sewald in to struggle in the sixth inning as he retired only one of the eight hitters he faced.

Sewald gave up a single, two-run homer, infield hit, RBI double, single, hit a batter and issued a bases loaded walk.

Yeah, I know the Mets are short-handed in the bullpen, but one would think sometime before the walk to Bell to force in a run a light-bulb would have gone on in Collins’ head telling him Sewald didn’t have it tonight and short-handed or not, the Mets still had a game to win.

The Mets lead 7-5 going into the inning and trailed 11-7 when it was over.

Sewald should have been pulled after Elias Diaz’s homer (he drove in three with a bases-loaded double in the fourth off Harvey).

“It was one of those nights,” Sewald said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I didn’t have my best fastball. I was struggling to get people out.”

Yeah, I get it, Collins doesn’t have many reliable relievers in the bullpen. Sewald was one of them before tonight.

“We were short tonight in the pen,” Collins said. “We didn’t want to burn too many guys in the pen. … He’s got to get us through the inning and he couldn’t do it.”

Now what?

If Collins doesn’t trust his relievers, then they shouldn’t be on the team, and that’s on GM Sandy Alderson.

DUDA’S POWER WASTED: Duda homered twice against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole giving him ten for the season.

Duda has been sizzling with six homers in his last eight games.

Too bad it was wasted.