Mets star righty Matt Harvey’s early season issues continued in a 7-5 loss to the Indians on Saturday. Harvey allowed three-plus runs for the third straight start, which is the first time that has happened in the fourth-year man’s career. In total, Harvey surrendered five earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings, adding four strikeouts against three walks. So far this season, Harvey has put up an ugly 5.71 ERA to go along with a 4.67 K/9 and 3.63 BB/9. Those numbers look nothing like his tremendous career totals (2.59 ERA, 9.31 K/9, 2.01 BB/9), but Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen doesn’t expect Harvey’s struggles to last. Warthen expressed belief after the game Saturday that Harvey has a mechanical problem that’s easily fixable, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter link). Warthen elaborated, saying that Harvey is hurting his consistency by collapsing his back leg in the stretch (Twitter link via Marc Carig of Newsday). Harvey was outstanding from the windup Saturday, allowing just one hit in 14 at-bats. On the other hand, Indians hitters teed off on him when he was in the stretch, going 5 for 8 with two doubles, three walks and a pair of steals, per Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter). Harvey’s next scheduled start is against the lowly Braves on Friday. Both facing Atlanta and making the right adjustments in the meantime could put Harvey in position to revisit his dominant form for the first time this year.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano is back to full strength after the team scratched him from his Wednesday start with a tight right hamstring, Adam Berry of MLB.com relays. Liriano, who threw a bullpen session Saturday, expects to start Tuesday in San Diego. “Everything feels normal,” Liriano said. “Ready to go on Tuesday. Everything went well today.” That’s welcome news for the Pirates, whose starting rotation isn’t particularly imposing on paper aside from Gerrit Cole and Liriano. In 11 innings this year, Liriano has posted a stellar 2.45 ERA, but his 7.36 BB/9 is unsightly and nearly twice his career number of 3.83.
- After the Cubs activated him from the 15-day disabled list Friday, utilityman Javier Baez made his 2016 debut Saturday and went 2 for 4 with a double while giving veteran Ben Zobrist a breather at second base. Going forward, the Cubs hope to start Baez two or three times per week at various positions as they try to develop the 23-year-old, manager Joe Maddon said (via Cody Stavenhagen of MLB.com). “He’s got a high-maintenance swing and he’s young, so he needs to continue to get at-bats,” stated Maddon. “That’s the difficult part about all of this … to nurture him along right now along with a team that has a chance to do something really special this year.” After a poor 52-game showing at the plate with the Cubs in 2014 (.169/.227/.324), the former top-tier prospect improved last season to the tune of a respectable .289/.325/.408 line in 28 contests.
- Imminent changes could be coming to the Phillies’ outfield, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “You can’t get around it. It’s not good,” manager Pete Mackanin said in regards to the league-worst .299 OPS Phillies left fielders have compiled and the .454 OPS their right fielders have posted. “In the short term, if we don’t show improvement, we’ll probably make a change,” Mackanin added. The Phillies did make a change Saturday when they put first baseman Darin Ruf in left, but the club doesn’t see him as a solution because of defensive concerns. That could open the door for at least one of Will Venable or David Lough, both of whom are in Triple-A. Venable has a May 1 opt-out in his contract if he isn’t on the Phillies’ big league roster by then. While the Phillies are considering calling up those two, prospect Nick Williams needs more time to develop and is not a candidate for a promotion, according to Mackanin.