Matt Harvey clearly isn’t right. What exactly is wrong is something both Harvey and the New York Mets hope will be determined on Thursday.
According to Newsday’s David Lennon, Harvey is scheduled to visit a doctor after struggling with a ‘fatigued’ arm during his abbreviated four-inning outing against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
After the game, a frustrated Harvey told reporters, “My arm was not working at all.”
That was supported by some troubling readings on the Citi Field radar gun. Harvey’s fastball was almost non-existent, settling in at a career low average of 91 mph. On three occasions his fastball velocity dipped to 87 mph, which is a level he hasn’t pitched at since his early days in high school.
Harvey also said the last time his fastball was 87 mph — as it was tonight — was freshman year in high school. #Mets
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) June 15, 2017
A fatigued arm is obviously one of the leading causes for decreased velocity, and it can stem from any number of issues. The Mets will hope it’s simply a side effect of coming back from thoratic outlet surgery, which Harvey had last July. Though even that doesn’t necessarily mean good news, as there’s no guarantee a pitcher will ever regain full strength following that procedure.
One thing the Mets should know before Harvey is evaluated is that they can’t turn to him again until they know he’s one-hundred percent. He’s been vulnerable to some degree since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October of 2013, but it’s at a point now where opponents are teeing off against him with regularity.
Though the Mets rallied to win 9-4 on Wednesday, the Cubs were just the latest team to clobber Harvey, roughing him up for four runs over four innings. Harvey allowed just four base hits, but three of those were tape measure home runs off the bats of Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber.
Schwarber’s 465-foot blast in the fourth inning actually cleared the Shea Bridge in right field.
Oh dear, Schwarber hit the ball over the Shea Bridge. I'm not sure what I can say about this one, but I added the Bridge to the graphic. pic.twitter.com/PnfjCNVHcq
— CitiFieldHR (@CitiFieldHR) June 15, 2017
That has been the trend for Harvey all season. He’s now allowed 16 home runs in just 70 1/3 innings this season after allowing just eight in 92 2/3 innings last season. In fact, Harvey has never allowed more than 18 homers in any full season.
The increase in home runs allowed is linked to several things. First and foremost, his command has not been great, as evidenced by the 35 walks he’s already allowed in 2017. His career-high is 37 walks over 189 innings in 2015.
As a result of the poor command, he’s consistently behind in counts and missing his spots. That problem is magnified by the lack of velocity, which used to allow Harvey to pitch around his mistakes.
That all points to Matt Harvey’s right arm not being as strong as he needs it, and it’s left the Mets desperately needing a reason to hope his arm will spring to life again.
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