Matt Harvey has a chance to make it all better for him and the Mets Tuesday in Washington. Coming off arguably the worst start of his still short career, he gave up nine runs to the Nationals to generate the “what’s wrong with Harvey,’’ chatter.
The theories were endless, ranging to his heavy workload last year coming off Tommy John surgery and a light spring training to his health. Was he hurt? Was he trying to overcompensate for Game 5? What’s wrong with his velocity and mechanics?
Now, after the Mets ripped the Nationals, 7-1, Monday, Harvey will get the ball with the chance to pitch the Mets back into first place.
It’s only May and with so much of the season left the standings aren’t of paramount importance. However, it is not a stretch to say outside his first game back from Tommy John surgery, this could be the most important regular-season start of his career.
Manager Terry Collins, believing Harvey’s confidence could be rattled, gave him the option of skipping this start. Sometimes to his detriment, Harvey always wants the ball, so there was no chance that would happen.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating being out there right now when you’re not doing well and not helping the team,” Harvey told ESPN.com. “As a teammate, your objective is to do everything you can to win games and help us succeed.
“And I wasn’t doing that. So, obviously, they gave me an option to be skipped or whatnot and really try to figure things out. For me, taking time off isn’t going to do anything. It’s finding it on the mound.
“I’m not a quitter. I’m not going to just quit and put the ball down. It’s a fight. It was good for me to do that.”
Harvey has issues, but nobody can accuse him of being a quitter.
The easy thing would have been for Harvey to decompress on the bench, but he knows that wouldn’t have been the right choice. There would be the inevitable speculation as to whether he is physically sound.
Even worse, his competitive nature would have been questioned. Can you imagine the storm if Harvey sat Tuesday and the Mets went in a tailspin?
Pitching was Harvey’s only choice.
If he puts it together and goes on a productive run, all of this will go down as another blip on the Mets’ radar screen.
METS GAME WRAP
May 23, 2016
Game: #44 Score: Mets 7, Nationals 1
Record: 26-18 Streak: W 4
Standings: Second, NL East half-game behind Nationals. Playoffs Today: First WC vs. Philadelphia
Runs: 174 Average: 3.95 Times 3 or less: 21
KEY MOMENT: Wright’s three-run homer in the Mets’ five-run third.
THUMBS UP: Colon was on the ropes in the first, but with runners on first and second he got Anthony Rendon on a fly to left. Who thought Colon would have gone out for the seventh? … Cespedes hit his 15th homer and Walker his 11th. … Two hits each from Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Cespedes, Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. … More solid work from the bullpen.
EXTRA INNINGS: Travis d’Arnaud resumed throwing and could return to Port St. Lucie soon. … It was the 222nd victory of Colon’s career. … Colon turns 43 Tuesday.
QUOTEBOOK: “There’s no real timetable. It’ll be awhile. I guess there are some exercises he can do, but nothing baseball related for awhile. We’re looking at a fairly long period.’’ – Collins on Duda’s injury.
BY THE NUMBERS: 63: Mets homers to lead the NL. They are third in the majors.
NEXT FOR METS: Matt Harvey takes the ball – and a myriad of concerns and worries – to the mound against Stephen Strasburg.