It’s about Matt Harvey, so the “What If Wonder Machine,” is whirling again. Since 2012, the question the Mets have been asking is: How good can this guy be?
Harvey is 29-28 in his four-year Mets career, but because of two arm surgeries in three years, consistently poor run support and his inability to close out games, has always left us wanting more.
Harvey’s climb back to becoming an elite pitcher – he has that potential – took another step as he’s begun throwing as part of his recovery after surgery in July in treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome. It is a complicated procedure that involved removing a rib.
Posting on his Instagram account, Harvey wrote: “He’s working the mechanics.”
Harvey, currently on the 60-day disabled list, is expected to be ready for spring training.
Before the ailment sidelined him, Harvey started 17 games and went 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA and a miserable 1.47 WHIP. In 92.2 innings he gave up 111 hits and 25 walks. He started poorly, seemed to right himself, then hit the skids again.
The year 2012, when he made ten starts to begin a career full of promise. His 3-5 record could be brushed off by inexperience and a lack of run support, but what caught everybody’s attention was an overpowering fastball, a confidence that belied his years and a stunning 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
That greatness emerged – no, make that exploded – in 26 starts in 2013 which culminated in starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field.
However, in what began a disturbing career trend, prior to the All-Star Game Harvey developed tightness in his forearm, which he initially did not disclose. He tried to pitch through it and was adamant about starting the All-Star Game.
He continued to pitch after the All-Star break, but after losing three of his last four decisions in August, the discomfort continued and he was placed on the disabled list and eventually had Tommy John surgery. Harvey missed the 2014 season and returned the following year, showing glimpses of his previous dominance and finished at 13-8.
I thought he would be hellfire this year, in fact, wrote he’d be so fueled by what happened in Game 5 of the World Series that he’d win 20 games and compete for the Cy Young Award.
It didn’t happen. After two surgeries in three years, I look at Harvey’s career with caution. He’s young enough to bounce back, but he’s had a big enough window to make one wonder.
It’s an oversimplification to say his mediocre career record is just a lack of run support. Great pitchers find a way to win and too many games have slipped away from him.
I’m asking the same question Harvey should be asking: Why?
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