Even after season-ending injuries – and surgeries – in 2013 and last year, Harvey and the Mets envisioned a return to prominence.
Things appeared promising for him after he won his first two starts coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. At the time Harvey appeared ahead of schedule because in spring training pitching coach Dan Warthen said it wouldn’t be until mid-May when his stuff returned.
Harvey said he felt good, and the radar gun clocked him consistently in the high 90s, but stuff is more throwing a ball through a wall.
“The ball came out of his hand really good,” manager Terry Collins told reporters. “When he was going good, he had great stuff and great command. Today he had great stuff, but his command wasn’t there.”
Stuff is more than just velocity; it is getting movement on his pitches. It is throwing a fastball three inches inside, but see it tail back over the corner for a strike. It is also locating all his pitches, including his secondary pitches anytime in the count.
None of that was there tonight.
Harvey gave up four runs in his two wins but has given up 17 in his following four starts, including 12 in these last two against the Braves.
“His command was off,” Collins told reporters. “His secondary pitchers weren’t there.”
Last time out, Harvey had the built-in reason – excuse if you will – of getting just a few hours notice to make an emergency start replacing Syndergaard. On full rest tonight, Harvey went a little longer, but wasn’t much better, giving up six runs in the 9-7 loss.
Harvey labored throughout, taking 100 pitches to work 5.1 innings, and said he was trying to compete.
“Today was the best I have felt in a long time,” Harvey said. “It was coming out of my hand better than it has in a couple of years.”
Just competing, however, won’t get it done for the Mets, who are trying to make up serious ground early in the season, and trying to do so without Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
To do so, they’ll need Harvey to put on his “big boy’’ pants and pitch to the level he still believes he can.
ON DECK LATER TONIGHT: Mets Wrap: Bruce’s Hot Start Continues