Matt Harvey has elected to undergo surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, agent Scott Boras tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. The operation will end Harvey’s 2016 season.
Harvey was placed on the disabled list earlier this week, and it was reported soon after that he was to be evaluated for thoracic outlet syndrome — a compression of nerves and blood vessels in the shoulder area that is often alleviated by the removal of a rib in the patient. Twins right-hander Phil Hughes underwent the same procedure earlier this week, and other recent examples of players to undergo the procedure include Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Chris Young.
The injury has undoubtedly contributed to Harvey’s down season. The 26-year-old has posted a 4.86 ERA with diminished strikeout (7.4 K/9), walk (2.4 BB/9) and ground-ball (40.8 percent) rates while also seeing a 1.5 mph dip in his fastball velocity. Harvey has reportedly been experiencing numbness in his hand while pitching and, via Newsday’s Marc Carig (on Twitter), told manager Terry Collins following his most recent start (in Collins’ words): “My shoulder’s dead. My arm’s dead. There’s no energy there. I couldn’t feel the ball.”
The loss of Harvey is magnified by the fact that two of the Mets’ excellent young starters, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard, are pitching through bone spurs in their elbows. Matz’s spur is said to be the larger and more severe of the two, and surgery has been mentioned as an option for him as well, though he’s hoping to delay the procedure until the offseason, as going under the knife would essentially end his 2016 campaign as well. Right-hander Zack Wheeler, too, has suffered some setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and doesn’t currently have a projected return date.
For now, the Mets will utilize Syndergaard, Matz, Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon as their front four starters, with right-hander Logan Verrett stepping into the rotation this weekend. Additional alternatives include lefty Sean Gilmartin and right-handers Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman, Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo (as can be seen on their depth chart), though several of those pitchers have struggled while pitching in the hitter-friendly environs of Triple-A Las Vegas this season.