According to ESPN sources, the New York Mets will not shut down star pitcher Matt Harvey and will allow him to pitch into the postseason. This decision had been looming for the Mets as it became increasingly apparent that the team will most likely make it to baseball’s second season. Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, had advocated for a strict innings cap that would have seen his player shut down, playoffs or not. The Mets’ All-Star has already logged 166.1 innings in his return season from Tommy John surgery. Boras had advocated for a strict 180-inning cap, but that was before the Mets burst onto the postseason scene.
Boras, who typically gets what he wants, was not pleased with the decision.
“It should be the doctor’s decision because it is about the well-being of the patient,” Boras said. “They are obviously putting the player in peril. That’s their decision. That’s what they chose to do.”
Whether or not Harvey is really being put in peril is unknown. The Washington Nationals shut Stephen Strasburg down prior to the 2012 playoffs following his Tommy John, but that has done nothing to preserve his long-term health. Injuries have kept Strasburg out for most of this season, although he has not dealt with significant arm trouble. There remains no conclusive answer to how many innings a pitcher should be allowed to throw when returning from Tommy John. A 180-inning cap has been set by some medical experts, but there remain many unaccounted for factors in a strict innings limit like pitch count, high stress innings, and body type. The sturdy 6’4″ Harvey has shown no signs of breaking down in the second half of the season and has had mostly clean innings on the season. Already, the Mets have skipped a start, and will likely continue keeping a tight leash on their 26-year-old ace. With a six-game lead in the division, the Mets will be able to massage their rotation to minimize Harvey’s workload as much as possible.
As the Washington Nationals have already found out, there are no guarantees when it comes to postseason success. Strasburg was shut down under the premise that he and the Nationals would have plenty of opportunities to contend for the World Series. They have yet to advance out of the first round of the playoffs, and with the Mets building momentum and having arguably a better rotation, the World Series window in Washington could begin to shut ever so slightly. The Mets have fully committed to this season’s playoff run by allowing Harvey to continue to pitch. Whether or not allowing Harvey to throw an extra 30 innings in the postseason will ultimately affect his career is impossible to know. It is also impossible to know if the Mets will find themselves in this position again.
For a franchise that has seen its fair share of missed opportunities over the years, going all in on an unexpected opportunity to win now in 2015 seems to be the best decision for the entire team, Harvey included. It takes a little bit of risk to win a World Series, and there is some inherent risk in allowzing Harvey to approach 200 innings.
At some point, however, both the player and team must be willing to put it all out there in pursuit of a title. If Harvey were not onboard with the decision, then it’s very likely he would not continue pitching. Harvey wants the ball, just as Strasburg did. Good on Harvey for being willing to put his neck out there for his teammates, and good on the Mets for allowing him to do so.