May 30

What Will Mets Get From Harvey?

The Mets set the bar low for Matt Harvey’s last start. It’s been set even lower for what could be a water-logged Memorial Day start this afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.

Before the Nationals ripped him last week, manager Terry Collins wanted a “quality’’ outing from his former No. 1 starter. He didn’t get it, Harvey’s ERA zoomed to 6.08 and he left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.

HARVEY: What will we get? (AP)

HARVEY: What will we get? (AP)

This time out, “I’m hoping that he relaxes,” said Collins.

If he does, Harvey will have to shift it into a higher mental gear we haven’t seen before.

“I’m hoping that he just goes out and pitches like he knows how – and that is worrying about making pitches, not so much about the mechanics,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, Collins believes Harvey’s problems are a combination mechanical and mental. In addition to working with pitching coach Dan Warthen on his mechanics – from release point to where his lead foot lands – Collins said Harvey is also working with the Mets’ mental skills coach.

Collins wouldn’t specify the next step for Harvey if he gets routed.

“I just think we’ve got to wring the rag dry here,” Collins said. “This is not just a Triple-A guys who’s up for a tryout. This is a guy who pitched in an All-Star Game a couple of years ago and was one of the best in the game. And, I think we need to push a little bit farther.”

Nobody knows what will happen today, but perhaps Harvey will come up with a performance worth talking about.

Apr 23

Mets Matters: Harvey Still Searching

Mets manager Terry Collins finally admitted the team’s handling of its pitchers perhaps contributed to Matt Harvey‘s sluggish start. The Mets held their pitchers back a week because of last season’s workloads. Harvey threw 12 innings in spring training whereas most starters log close to 30 innings. Harvey’s spring was further cut short by a urinary tract infection.

mets-matters logo“He really never got to where he was game-ready at the end of spring training,” Collins told reporters. “It just kind of carried over into the season.”

Now, was that so hard?

Harvey lost his first three starts before winning an unimpressive start Friday night.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Harvey said. “Parts of the game obviously felt better, and it felt like I was releasing the ball the way I should be. Other times it was not that way. I’m still working. There’s more positives than negatives out of this game.”

Perhaps the biggest negative was Harvey throwing 101 pitches in five innings.

“Obviously throwing that many pitches in five innings is not ideal,” Harvey said. “My goal today was going out there and really trying to work on what we had worked on this past week. At times, I was able to do that, and at times I fell out of that. I have to re-find that.”

Prior to the game, pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey had developed a mechanical flaw where he collapsed his push-off leg working out of the stretch.

“The majority of the time out of the stretch I did feel better,” Harvey said. “Like I said, there’s still work to be done.”

If this is the work in progress Harvey proclaims it to be, it could take a few more starts before he gets it right.

But, on a positive note, at least the Mets seem to have an idea of what’s wrong with Harvey.

DeGROM READY FOR SUNDAY:  Jacob deGrom rejoined the Mets today after being on emergency family leave and will start Sunday against the Braves.

DeGrom said his two-week-old son, Jaxon, was suffering from apnea and would stop breathing while he slept.

“It was definitely scary,” deGrom said told reporters. “When all the tests came back and nothing was seriously wrong, we were pretty relieved.”

Sunday’s start will be his first since April 8, a game he left with tightness in his right lat after six innings. After studying video, deGrom theorizes his landing leg was too stiff.

“I feel good,” deGrom said. “The last few bullpen sessions have been good.”

CESPEDES SIDELINED: Collins said Yoenis Cespedes aggravated the bruise on his right leg sliding into second and would probably not play the remaining two games during this series.

“The bruise is pretty big,” Collins said. “He’s aggravated it, and he’s limping pretty bad. … He’s pretty swelled. He’s certainly not going to be available today.”

 

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Apr 22

Will Harvey Find It Tonight?

Both the Mets and Matt Harvey insist there’s nothing wrong with the pitcher’s surgically-repaired elbow, but, he’s Harvey, so can we really buy into that?

Whatever is ailing Harvey – outside of unflattering and sarcastic headlines – it usually surfaces in the middle innings.

HARVEY: Searching for answers. (Getty)

HARVEY: Searching for answers. (Getty)

“He’s hit a wall,” Collins told reporters about Harvey’s problems. “All of a sudden in the middle of the game he’s not making pitches that he made early in the game — he has struggled out of the stretch. He made some changes, so I know he feels good about it so I expect him to get it going.”

Excluding injuries – Collins insists Harvey “is too smart,” to pitch with an injury – the prevailing theory is a mechanical flaw with the pitcher’s back leg. That’s pitching coach Dan Warthen‘s conclusion.

“I’m not a pitching coach,” Collins said. “I believe in my pitching coach. He’s very, very good, and if that’s what he’s determined and they’ve got it fixed then Matt Harvey will be back. The way we tried to get all those young guys ready for the season, he might have not done enough extra work in the bullpen.”

Actually, Collins would be more thruthful if he said Mets pitchers didn’t get enough work in spring training games. The traditional number is close to 30 exhibition innings, but Harvey threw 12.

“I still have all the confidence in the world he’s going to get it going and at the end of the year he’s going to be right where he always is, and that’s pitching great,” Collins said.

Collins better be right because there’s a whole lot riding on Harvey pitching to expectations.

ON DECK: April 22, Mets Lineup At Atlanta

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Apr 21

Put Up Time For Matt Harvey

It’s time Matt Harvey put on his “Big Boy Pants’’ and begins pitching up to all the expectations, from the Mets, the public whose attention he craves, the media whom he disdains, and of course, himself.

After a dismal start to a season many projected would be a breakout year – I even said he’d win 20 – Harvey needs to come up with a performance to change the talk from whispered questions to shouts of adulation.

HARVEY: Walking off the mound dejected. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking off the mound dejected. (AP)

It’s not a stretch to say outside his first start last season following Tommy John surgery Friday’s game in Atlanta will be the most important regular-season start in his still young career.

Harvey shot into our Mets’ consciousness in 2013 with his All-Star caliber pitching and remained there with his elbow injury, how he handled himself in his rehabilitation program and his penchant for the trappings of being the Dark Knight and a New York sports hero.

Then there was the World Series and Game 5 when he pitched like the star we all hoped he’d be, but who morphed into selfishness when he let his ego run wild in the ninth inning that ended the Mets’ season.

Harvey, by his own admission, entered spring training with a chip on his shoulder grew inflamed after a bladder infection and his immature reaction following the expected response from the tabloids. What, he didn’t expect sarcastic headlines? The tabloids aren’t The Player’s Tribune, which grants the free pass of no accountability he knew as a prep star and foolishly demands in the major leagues.

Somebody who professes to be a New York star should understand that; just as should have known of the anticipated concern over his 0-3 with a 5.71 ERA start. It’s one thing to go through a rough stretch, but Harvey’s command and fastball aren’t what they used to be. His valued slider doesn’t have its usual bite.

That’s more than mildly worrisome.

Is Harvey injured? He hasn’t always been forthcoming about health issues, so that can’t be ruled out. He says he’s fine, but his believability index is low.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said after his loss in Cleveland last Saturday Harvey’s confidence was shaky and mechanics were off. Confidence comes from pitching well and winning, but Harvey isn’t doing either. After that game Harvey admitted “nobody is more frustrated than I am.”

Correcting mechanics takes time and rarely are fixed after one session, although manager Terry Collins said this week he had a good one.

“He was very confident,’’ Collins told reporters. “He thought it was the best bullpen he’s had in a long time. So that was really good news.’’

Of course, if Harvey was having poor bullpens why wasn’t this brought out earlier? But, therein lies the complex dilemma that has marked his career. He’s not forthcoming and the Mets go out of their way to protect him.

Just as there are expectations, there is always something with Harvey, always some issue that takes our eyes off the mound. Only this time our eyes remain fixated on the mound and Harvey. And, it will remain that way until he starts pitching.

It’s put up time

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Apr 16

Is It Time To Wonder About Harvey?

Matt Harvey clearly doesn’t have it, and it is time to wonder, not if, but what is wrong with the Mets’ pitcher. Is something bothering him physically or didn’t he get enough work during spring trainiing?

HARVEY: ``Nobody is more frustrated than I am.'' (AP)

HARVEY: “Nobody is more frustrated than I am.” (AP)

After cruising through four innings Saturday in Cleveland, Harvey suddenly lost it and ended up giving up five runs in 5.2 innings to lose his third straight game and watch his ERA balloon to 5.71.

While those are numbers, they are also the product of a fastball in the low 90s. So are opponents hitting .452 in the fifth and sixth innings. In that span his ERA is over 10.00. His sixth-inning ERA is 27.00 alone.

That’s not the stuff of aces.

“The one thing I saw was he was pounding the zone early and then he got some pitches up,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “Right now, I am worried about how he’s cruising along and loses it so fast.”

Harvey doesn’t have an answer, either, but dismissed the idea he was injured.

“I’m fine,” Harvey said. “I’m not hitting a wall. I have to figure out how to get through the fifth and sixth innings and right now I’m not doing that. It’s not only location; everything fell apart. My job is to keep us close and I didn’t do that. I’m going to have to start over and flush this one.”

This leaves greater credence to the theory he didn’t get enough work in spring training. Also supporting that theory was pitching coach Dan Warthen suggesting Harvey might be pressing because of a mechanical issue. Not only is his fastball down, but his slider has no bite and he only threw one significant curveball against the Indians.

If there’s nothing physically wrong, I’m inclined to go back to my initial theory he didn’t get enough work in spring training. Most starters aim to get in 30 innings, but Harvey got only 12, hardly enough to build up the arm strength needed to snap off a breaking ball, especially his slider.

Maybe that theory is wrong, but this much is certain. Something is not right.

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