7:35pm: Harvey’s agent Scott Boras conducted a study regarding Tommy John recipients similar to Harvey, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boras looked at pitchers who never exceeded 200 innings in a season, had Tommy John surgery, then returned with a roughly 200 inning workload.
Four pitchers fit into the statistical bucket – Shaun Marcum, Josh Johnson, Jarrod Parker, and Kris Medlen. Three of them required a second Tommy John surgery while the fourth, Marcum, is quite familiar with the disabled list. Boras offers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann as two examples who built their innings total more carefully. Obviously, both pitchers have yet to experience another elbow related injury.
To be fair, any statistician would warn against taking this case study at face value. It’s interesting that all four pitchers have experienced continual health problems, but full statistical and medical analysis would surely be needed before assessing how these findings apply to other players.
4:47pm: Yesterday, it was reported that there was friction between Matt Harvey’s agent Scott Boras and the Mets over the Mets’ plans for handling Harvey down the stretch. Boras wanted the Mets to keep Harvey, who had Tommy John surgery following the 2013 season, on a 180-inning limit. Harvey has already pitched 166 1/3 innings this year, so a 180-inning limit would severely limit the Mets’ use of Harvey in the rest of the regular season and in the playoffs. The Mets responded that they would pitch Harvey based on their own plan and would have him pitch a “reasonable” amount during the postseason.
Today the story took a surprising turn, as Harvey himself spoke up to back the 180-inning limit. Here are the details, via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter links) and the Record’s Matt Ehalt (Twitter links: 1 2 3 4). Harvey told reporters today that he would be limited to 180 innings. He refused to answer questions about the playoffs.
“I’m going to always play, but like I said, I hired Dr. [James] Andrews to do my surgery, and I hired Scott for a reason, and that’s to prolong my career and put me in the best possible position,” said Harvey, who added that the 180-inning limit came from Andrews (although Harvey was unsure whether that included the playoffs).
Via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links), however, the Mets deny that Andrews backed a 180-inning limit. “He didn’t say 180 was the number,” says GM Sandy Alderson. “He was not categorical at all.” Rosenthal also tweets that Andrews does not prescribe strict innings limits for patients returning from Tommy John surgery.
Despite Boras’ previous comments, it’s surprising that Harvey would come out so strongly in favor of the innings limit. In early July, Harvey complained about the Mets’ six-man rotation, which would have limited his innings total this year. Some reporters, including Rosenthal (on Twitter), have suggested that Harvey might be hurting. That is, of course, speculation. But it could explain the timing of the 180-inning controversy, which might have been resolved, say, before the season, rather than in September. In any case, such a severe restriction on an impact pitcher like Harvey for the remainder of the season would have a significant effect on the Mets’ chances the rest of the way.