The New York Mets pitching staff struggled to stay 100 percent healthy this season. Jacob deGrom is the only starter to avoid the disabled list this season. From Noah Syndergaard, to Steven Matz, to Zack Wheeler, pitcher after pitcher went down with injury in 2017. The team’s fortunes sank accordingly, as management mishandled the respective injuries to these pitchers. Now, they plan to start Matt Harvey on short rest this week, according to SNY’s Steve Gelbs.
This move raises some eyebrows. Harvey was not exactly lights-out last Saturday, in his first outing since landing on the DL in June. The 28-year-old gave up seven runs on eight hits in just two innings of work against the Houston Astros. He also hit a batter and notched one strikeout in a 37-pitch first inning. Harvey owns a 5.97 earned run average in 14 starts this season.
“No, I don’t feel like I’m far away at all,” Harvey said of returning to his dominant 2015 form.
Apparently that statement instilled enough confidence in Terry Collins that he made the decision to start his embattled starter on short rest. In fact, Harvey himself asked pitching coach Dan Wharten about pitching on short rest, as Newsday’s Marc Carig reported on Monday. Harvey threw just 70 pitches on Saturday, so perhaps fatigue is not as much of a factor as it might have been otherwise.
“I’m fully confident that within the next start, the start after that, or whatever it is, by the end of this season, I’ll be comfortable on the mound and throwing to hitters,” Harvey said after Saturday’s loss.
It is tough to see how Harvey feels more comfortable just two days after his last start. Wharten’s encouragement of Harvey’s decision is all the more surprising.
On the other hand, the Mets have nothing to lose. Sitting more than 20 games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East, it is not as if the Mets need to field their best lineup for a playoff race. It is important to give struggling pitchers and hitters reps and let them work through their slumps. Maybe this is why Collins endorsed Harvey’s idea of pitching on short rest.
At the same time, Harvey has proven to be injury-prone over the past two seasons. For a pitcher desperate for a 2018 comeback, it is important not to overwork him. Fatigue could put him at greater risk for further injury.
This news comes on a day where the Mets announced season-ending surgeries for four players. Michael Conforto and David Wright will both undergo shoulder surgery. T.J. Rivera will undergo Tommy John surgery, while Josh Edgin will undergo arthroscopic left knee surgery. The Mets surely do not want to add Harvey to that list. Pitching him on short rest could fly in the face of that plan.
“When you haven’t pitched in four months, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Collins said of Harvey’s Saturday struggles.
Sure, it was Harvey’s idea to pitch on short rest, but managers determine the final lineup. Perhaps Collins sees something that fans and reporters do not.
“Now it’s about getting him back in shape and getting him on the mound and making his pitches work for him,” he added. “As long as he is healthy we’re moving forward.”
Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer for Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi