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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Feb 20

I’m Liking How Mets Are Protecting Pitchers Early

The Mets are starting early this spring in protecting their young rotation. They eliminated any speculation as to what they will do with the announcement they won’t use their starters for the first five exhibition games.

They’ll still get their work in, but they’ll shave off a couple of innings they’ll work in spring training. Traditionally, each starter in the rotation should get 30 innings and work themselves up to 100 pitches by Opening Day.

“We’re addressing it just by what we do this spring,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters in Port St Lucie. “We will probably cut down four or five innings on almost everybody in the spring. … We’ll still try to get to where they’re close to 100 pitches to open the season.”

Warthen said the first game for a projected starter will be March 8 when the Mets play the Braves in Orlando. Warthen indicated the decision to skip the first week is a reaction to the Mets making the World Series, which necessitated the young pitchers to work an extra month. All those young arms reached career highs in innings pitched, some by as many as 60 innings as in the case with Noah Syndergaard.

Then there was Matt Harvey, who started the season projected to throw 180 innings and wound up with 216.

The Mets aren’t expecting anything less this summer.

Oct 19

Mets’ Series Lead Could Enable Harvey To Rest

In addition to the historical percentages of advancing to the World Series, winning the first two games of the NLCS against Chicago, gives the Mets the advantage of bypassing the injured Matt Harvey in Game 5 if necessary.

Harvey took a line drive off the bat of Dexter Fowler to the back of his pitching arm in the sixth inning of Game 1, and already, manager Terry Collins is alluding to possibly of starting Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon.

HARVEY:  Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

HARVEY: Questionable for Thursday. (Getty)

“He’s pretty sore and pretty swelled up,’’ Collins said Monday at Wrigley Field. “He, as we sit here today, is a go. But that could certainly change in the next couple of days.

“I was pretty surprised at how swelled up it was yesterday. So we certainly are going to keep a really close eye on it the next couple of days.’’

Of course, the Mets want to wrap this up as soon as possible, but if they win one of the next two games, they’ll be sitting pretty with a 3-1 series edge heading into Game 5.

Harvey, who won his first two postseason starts, played catch today. Harvey’s innings became a focal point at the end of the season, but if he’s held back Thursday, it will have nothing to do with his workload.

Harvey stayed in the game after he was struck, and pitching coach Dan Warthen said that was beneficial because it enabled him to keep his arm stretched out.

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