Matt Harvey‘s career has taken another turn for the worse. Saturday afternoon, New York Mets’ manager Mickey Callaway announced that he’s moving the Dark Knight to the bullpen. And the righty now finds himself pitching for his Major League Baseball life.
2018 has not been kind to Harvey. In the four games he’s started this season, Harvey has recorded a 6.00 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 21 innings pitched. He’s struggling with his command, has been hit hard, is putting runners on base often, and posing little to no threat on the rubber. Based on those struggles, it’s easy to see why he’d be a viable candidate to get bounced out of the rotation. But for Harvey, the move is a tad bit more significant. Once classified as the Mets’ ace, a leader in the clubhouse, and one of the best pitchers in the game, Harvey is now a shell of his old self. He no longer hits the high 90s on the radar with his fastball, doesn’t pitch deep into games, and isn’t feared by opposing lineups.
Harvey, of course, didn’t agree with Callaway’s decision and isn’t thrilled to be coming out of the bullpen. But he’s faced with no other choice: He has to pull through and dominate out of the pen.
At first, coming out of the bullpen will be a major adjustment for Harvey. He will come into games with runners on base, and have to escape trouble in the later innings. Perhaps, it’s just what he needs? Over the last two years, Harvey has been trying to prove that he’s still a force to be reckoned with on the hill over the stretch of six-to-seven innings at a time. Now, he’ll be coming into games looking to get just three outs, strikeout a right-handed hitter, or relieve a starter after a lackluster outing.
Harvey’s move to the pen comes in the wake of lefty Jason Vargas — who management signed on a two-year, $16 million deal before spring training — being eligible and healthy enough to come off the disabled list. And Callaway opting to stick with lefty Steven Matz and righty Zack Wheeler over Harvey speaks volumes. Matz and Wheeler have each struggled to stay healthy and garner consistency on the hill over the duration of their respective careers; Harvey has encountered those same roadblocks, but the inability to come anywhere close to rekindling his past heroics put him behind Matz and Wheeler in the rotation. In fact, if it weren’t for his superb 2013 and 2015 campaigns (when he recorded ERAs of 2.27 and 2.71 and struck out 191 and 188 batters), the Mets probably wouldn’t be thinking twice about sending Harvey down to Triple-A.Once a coveted young MLB star, Matt Harvey is now pitching for his baseball life out of the Mets bullpen.Click To Tweet
In reality, when you look at Harvey’s production from 2016 to the present, he’s been one of the worst starters in baseball. He’s recorded ERAs of 4.86, 6.70, and 6.00 and WHIPs of 1.47, 1.69, and 1.43 over the last three years and hasn’t started 20 games since 2015. Does that production scream a top-of-the-rotation arm, or one worthy of sticking in the rotation no matter what adversity he fails to overcome? Harvey has never started 30 games or struck out 200 batters — despite being labeled as a strikeout pitcher — in a season, and he surrendered a career-high 21 home runs last season. To put that total in perspective, Harvey gave up just 18 long balls in 11 more starts in 2015.
After this season, Harvey will be entering a stacked free agent class, which three years ago he projected to be a big part of. If he were to hit the open market today, chances are the best role teams would offer Harvey is the ability to compete to be their fifth starter or man a bullpen role; the $100 million payday is out of the question. Harvey now has to buckle down, do his best to excel out of the pen, and prove to the Mets that he’s worthy of starting every fifth game.
The Dark Knight’s rise to stardom was one of the biggest reasons for optimism surrounding the Mets’ future. But his downfall has resulted in him being the odd man out of the team’s rotation. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have established themselves as one of the best one-two pitching punches in baseball, while Matz and Wheeler have shown improvement this season. Harvey has continually shown he’s anything but the pitcher he was three years ago, and the fact that he finds himself in this predicament speaks volumes to where his career has gone. He is now on a mission to prove that the opposite can be the norm once more; his MLB future depends on it.