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?
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.