The Mets considered sending Matt Harvey down to help the slumping ace regain form, but he talked his way into remaining with the big league club and will make his next start, according to Newsday’s Marc Carig. “We dissected every angle there was,” said manager Terry Collins. “In the end, knowing this guy like we do, he wants to pitch. He wants to fight through it. He isn’t going to run and hide. He wants to get out there. So we’re going to do that.” Interestingly, in addition to mulling a minors trip for Harvey, the Mets pondered removing everything from his locker and setting those belongings on fire – which then-Mets reliever Bobby Parnell did last season when he was struggling. It’s unknown if Harvey actually did it, per Carig, who adds that the Mets believe his problems stem from a lack of confidence. After logging 427 innings of 2.53 ERA pitching to accompany a 4.78 K/BB from 2012-15, the 27-year-old Harvey has regressed significantly in both categories in 2016 (5.77 and 2.87, respectively).
More from the National League:
- On the heels of a less-than-stellar Saturday showing – five innings, five hits, four earned runs and three walks – Mark Simon of ESPN.com wonders if the Mets should also be concerned about starter Jacob deGrom. After bursting on the scene with back-to-back dominant campaigns, deGrom has been merely good in 2016. He entered Saturday with the majors’ 16th-worst hard-hit rate, which is in stark contrast to his eighth-best mark from last season, as Simon writes. Moreover, deGrom’s K/9 has dipped from 9.00-plus in each of the previous two years to 6.59 this season. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has also lost a couple miles per hour of velocity compared to last season, per PITCHf/x.
- The three-year, $31MM extension the Pirates gave catcher Francisco Cervelli this week could be a major win for the club, opines Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With pitch-framing value included, NEIFI Analytics projects Cervelli’s open market worth from 2017-19 at $57MM – nearly twice as much as he’s going to make with the Pirates – as Sawchik points out. Thus, Sawchik questions Cervelli’s decision to sign the extension, but he concedes that the backstop perhaps values playing in Pittsburgh over maximizing his worth.
- The Pirates’ shallower outfield alignment is getting excellent results, Sawchik and Chris Adamski detail. The Pirates’ outfielders lined up deeper last season and stopped enemy runners from advancing an extra base on singles 52.6 percent of the time. That number is up to 59 percent this season. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen has experienced the biggest improvement, going from 42.4 percent to 55.7 percent (via BucsDugout.com), since moving in an average of 17 feet from last season to this year (316 to 299). Further, after the Pirates turned 45.7 percent of the balls hit to the outfield into outs last year, they’ve increased the rate to 53.1 percent in 2016. Pittsburgh elected to move its outfield in this season because of its pitching staff, said manager Clint Hurdle. “No. 1, we have a staff that predominately uses two-seam fastballs. So in an actuality, a high percentage of balls are getting to the outfield on the ground. Fly balls that are hit (off two-seam fastballs) are not hit as high or deep as four-seam fastballs. It also accentuates outfield arms. It increases throwing accuracy, the ability to stop runners.”
- Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale isn’t pleased with the potential changes to the strike zone and the intentional walk, he told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. In regards to raising the strike zone, Hale said, “To me, the lower the zone, it’s always been better. I guess they’re trying to increase offense now. For me, I’d just leave the game alone. I think it’s good.” Hale also blasted the current replay process, saying, “I don’t know how the games are going to get any quicker as long as we keep checking every play on replay. And we have to slow the game down that way. It’s almost to the point of being embarrassing. It’s like, ‘He looks like he’s out to me, but let me check.’’