The New York Mets placed right-handed pitcher Matt Harvey on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with what was vaguely labeled as discomfort in his throwing shoulder, but the discomfort turned out to be much more serious. On Thursday, the Mets announced that Harvey was diagnosed with symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome and is weighing the decision of having a season-ending surgery.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a term used to describe disorders that occur when there is compression of nerves and/or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet, the area of the body from the lower neck to the rib cage. The surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome often involves removal of a rib to ease compression.
Harvey met with Doctor Robert Thompson in St. Louis on Wednesday after experiencing common symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome during his start against the Miami Marlins on Monday. That night, Harvey surrendered five earned runs on eleven hits in 3.2 innings. Following the outing, Harvey complained of pain and numbness in his shoulder and neck, two symptoms closely linked to thoracic outlet syndrome.
The surgery brings along a recovery time of four months, which would close the book on Harvey’s 2016 campaign. Once diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, surgery is inevitable to regain complete mobility. Should he choose to, Harvey could avoid surgery for now and opt for a nerve-blocking injection, though the injection would only be temporary fix, at best.
The 27-year-old Harvey sat out the entire 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Other than basic arm tiredness last year, Harvey had not had any issues with his arm since returning from the operation.
This year, Harvey has made seventeen starts for the Mets. In those starts, Harvey is 4-10 with an earned run average of 4.86 in 92 2/3 innings. Harvey has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 76:25 this season.
Harvey’s spot in New York’s starting rotation is due up on Saturday, when the Mets play host to the Washington Nationals in the third game of the teams’ four-game series. Logan Verrett will take the mound in Harvey’s place and is likely to keep the spot.
Should the Mets decide to use someone other than Verret in the vacated rotation spot, Seth Lugo — who the Mets recalled to fill Harvey’s spot on the active roster — and Sean Gilmartin serve as feasible options.
Harvey’s decision on whether to undergo surgery or receive an injection is expected to be publicly announced within the next week.