Recap That Turned Into A Matt Harvey Rant -April 19, 2018-

Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

What do we do?

I remember Carlos Beltran striking out against Adam Wainwright vividly. If I’m being honest, 2007 and 2008 are kind of a blur. It’s like those seasons were combined into one long fever dream. The Marlins are throwing punches at us but we can’t react quickly enough to block or counter.

That’s usually when I shoot up in bed, covered in a cold sweat. I’m relieved for a second, thinking the nightmare is over. I turn on the TV, but I don’t recognize the names.

Omar Quintanilla? Val Pascucci?

Reality set in when we traded Carlos Beltran. It’s over. We are starting from scratch. Logically, it was the right move. It was just a hard pill to swallow. Our reign over MLB never came to fruition.

Maybe it was fitting. It’s unfair, but all of the promise, the dreams of glory that were never realized from that time period seem to be tied to Carlos Beltran. It’s insane to sum up more than half a decade with one pitch that wasn’t swung at, but it’s hard to remember anything else.

In a sense, we were exorcising our demons by dealing Carlos Beltran to San Francisco for prized pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler was going to be the one to usher in the Mets to a new era of winning baseball. A young pitcher from the University of North Carolina, named Matt Harvey had other ideas.

In 2012, the story was definitely R.A Dickey. Behind a dancing knuckleball, Dickey was a must-watch anytime he pitched, baffling hitters and winning the Cy Young Award. Matt Harvey definitely made his name known though.

After his call up towards the end of the 2012 season, he posted a 2.75 ERA over 10 starts. Harvey opened eyes striking out 70 batters over 59 innings.

2013 was all Harvey. Dickey was traded for another future pitching stud, Noah Syndergaard, and the Mets had a new ace. Harvey earned the moniker, “The Dark Knight,” and every time he pitched was Harvey Day. When June rolled around, Matt Harvey was battling Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez for the Cy Young Award. Attention started to shift elsewhere though.

Zack Wheeler was set to make his major league debut. He was going to pitch against the Atlanta Braves, in a stadium close to his childhood home. The wait was finally over. All eyes were on Zack Wheeler. The thing is, the Mets had a doubleheader that day. Matt Harvey would pitch first.

In what would become a recurring theme, Matt Harvey didn’t appreciate the spotlight being pointed in a different direction. Harvey took a no-hitter into the 7th inning, notching a career high 13 strikeouts. Harvey would welcome Zack Wheeler, he just wanted him to know who the ace of the staff was.

Harvey’s masterful 2013 season ended tragically, as he needed to undergo Tommy John surgery.

When he returned for the 2015 season, there were some challengers to his throne. Jacob deGrom was coming off a 2014 season where he won Rookie Of The Year, and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz were on the horizon, ready to join the Mets.

In what would also become a recurring theme, Harvey started to make headlines off the field. The previous year, he demanded to rehab in New York instead of Florida which is standard protocol for injured Mets. He expressed his desire to pitch for the Yankees one day, and wanted to attend Rangers games instead of Mets games. His agent, Scott Boras blindsided the Mets in September, announcing an innings limit for his client during a pennant race.

In addition, you could see from a mile away that he was less than happy anytime a fellow Mets pitcher received any attention or praise. Want a perfect example? Watch Matt Harvey’s reaction in the dugout when Noah Syndergaard hit his first major league homerun against the Phillies in 2015.

We dealt with it though. For one reason. In my opinion, Matt Harvey’s 2015 was the best season any pitcher has ever had directly following Tommy John surgery. I’m not going to discuss the 2015 Postseason because I’m already disgusted tonight, but Matt Harvey was one of the main reasons we reached the playoffs.

Rule #6: Do not sit in the corner and sulk. It draws attention in a negative way. Draw attention to yourself, but on your own terms.

You are able to deal with Matt Harvey when he is performing. His off the field nonsense gets swept under the rug when Pedro Martinez is saying he’s going to be the best pitcher to ever wear a Mets uniform. His indiscretions become magnified when he’s struggling.

And he struggled mightily.

He was dealt an awful hand, don’t get me wrong. Tommy John surgery followed by thoracic outlet surgery. Follow that up with a surgery to repair a stress fracture in his scapula. Hard to be sympathetic, however, when he’s suspended for not showing up to the ballpark. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt when Terry Collins tells him “by the way, you’re starting today,” an hour before first pitch. An ERA over 6 sticks out like a sore thumb, when his nightlife is spilling onto Page Six though.

Ironically, the spotlight was pointed in different directions many times in 2016 and 2017. Syndergaard and Colon leading us to a Wildcard berth with the help of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo garnered most of the attention in 2016. And 2017 was so utterly bizarre, that Matt Harvey’s struggles, monumental as they were, became just a blip on the radar.

There’s no hiding in 2018 though.

Harvey was great in 2012 as a rookie. He posted one of the best seasons by a Mets starting pitcher ever in 2013. He was fantastic in 2015. There is no denying that.

He had an ERA of 4.76 in 2016. He had an ERA of 6.70 in 2017.

It goes to show you how good Harvey was, that despite his epic struggles throughout the last few years, he still sports a career ERA of 3.54. Very respectable. It’s unfair to talk about his struggles without mentioning his devastating injuries.

With that being said, has any pitcher achieved the level of success they had before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery? Add Tommy John surgery into the equation. What is the precedent there? What pitcher can we look to and find solace?

Is it time to exorcise these demons? Do we accept that Matt Harvey has joined a list that includes names like David Wright, Darryl Strawberry, Ike Davis and Dwight Gooden? Mets fans wanted better for these tragic figures, but they couldn’t will it to happen. If you appreciate the fiery Matt Harvey who wanted to fight team veterans over rookie hazing, you have to be critical of the Matt Harvey who throws changeups to opposing pitchers on 0-2 counts.

So, what’s the solution? A lot of people are saying he’s better suited for the bullpen. Ok, why? What is it about his pitching arsenal, or mental makeup that would make someone arrive at that conclusion?

Matt Harvey said it himself. He’s a starting pitcher. The problem is, he’s simply not effective anymore. When is the last time he recorded an out in the 6th inning?

I appreciate that the Mets are in a rough spot here. Harvey is in the last year of his contract and is owed a considerable amount of money. I don’t see any solutions here though.

Matt Harvey is hurting the team. The thing is I don’t blame it on his ego, or will to win. I don’t blame it on his extra curricular activities. He’s not just going through a rough patch. A trip to the minors won’t cure him. It’s very clear what the problem is.

Matt Harvey underwent thoracic outlet surgery, and pitchers aren’t effective after having it. I don’t think that Matt Harvey embodies an entire era of disappointing Mets baseball. I think that he’s the latest on a list of Mets who should have been hall of famers. I think it’s absolutely tragic that injuries have derailed his career. It’s time to move on.

Move on we will. We were supposed to do a recap right? Well, as you could imagine, the game didn’t go so well.

Harvey got the start for the Mets. He allowed the first two Braves to reach via base hits. Freddie Freeman hit a sacrifice fly making the score 1-0. Nick Markakis lined out and then Kurt Suzuki hit a 3 run home run.

In the 3rd inning, the Braves scored 3 more times. Harvey was hit incredibly hard. Ozzie Albies doubled. Nick Markakis singled. Kurt Suzuki doubled. Preston Tucker doubled. 6-0 Braves. Game over. In the 3rd inning.

Harvey actually pitched 6 innings tonight. He threw 5 pitches that Braves swung and missed at all night. So even though he got through the next 3 innings without allowing a run, there was nothing to build on.

The Braves called up Matt Wisler to make the start, and he was terrific. He went 7 innings allowing a run on two hits with 8 strikeouts. He didn’t walk a batter. A Todd Frazier solo homerun was the only blemish.

Blevins was roughed up tonight. He simply has not been effective this year. As he is our only left handed reliever, that is very concerning. Gerson Bautista had a terrible outing as well. He was wild and was hit hard in his second MLB appearance. He will likely be sent back down to the minors. Blevins and Bautista matched Harvey tonight, allowing 6 runs in their 2 innings of work.

The Mets mounted a little bit of offense once the Atlanta starter left the game. Adrian Gonzalez hit a solo home run to begin the 8th inning. The 8th inning provided another interesting Mickey Callaway decision. The Mets loaded the bases and he decided to pinch hit for Yoenis Cespedes. Brandon Nimmo came up to the plate and drew a walk, which forced in a run.

I’m thinking that Callaway either surrendered the game, or he realized how indefensible his decision to pinch hit Jose Reyes the other night was, and now he is just hitting Nimmo whenever he can.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed the Nimmo walk with a sacrifice fly making the score 12-4. That was all the Mets offense could muster tonight, and we look forward to tomorrow.

Trust me, that’s all the details you need. Harvey was awful. Wisler was great. Jerry Blevins and Gerson Bautista were atrocious.

Asdrubal Cabrera had a base hit. Cespedes and Conforto did not. We did not get a hit from our catcher. Jose Reyes had 2 at bats tonight and left 3 men on base.

Jay Bruce is really struggling. At the plate and on the field. 3 years is starting to seem like an eternity.

After last night’s dramatic come from behind victory over Washington, the Mets looked to carry that momentum into Atlanta. Matt Harvey’s 6 earned runs in 3 innings killed that notion.

Noah Syndergaard gets the start tomorrow. He will take on lefty Sean Newcomb.

LGM

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