Since allowing just one hit across five innings of work against the Phillies in his season debut, Matt Harvey has seemingly reverted back to his 2017 form. He’s allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last three starts, lasting just five innings in two of them. While it’s a good sign that Harvey’s walk rate is down, he’s been prone to the long ball (four homers allowed so far) and hasn’t been particularly impressive in the strikeouts department (7.29 K/9).
It’s an unfortunate extension of Harvey’s recent track record. Since coming off the disabled list in September of last season, the righty sports a cataclysmic 8.72 ERA, and there aren’t any real reasons for optimism surrounding the 29-year-old’s performance. He’s struck out just 30 batters across 43 1/3 innings of work since that time, and he’s allowed at least four runs in six of his nine starts while lasting more than five innings just once. For those interested in pitcher records, Harvey is 1-6 during that time.
It’s becoming more and more clear with each outing that Harvey seems unlikely to turn things around. He was once among the games elite arms and seemed likely to earn nine figures in his then-distant free agent foray, and although a late-2013 Tommy John surgery put that in serious question, he managed to bounce back with an outstanding 4.4 fWAR campaign in 2015. 2016, however, was the start of a tailspin, and Harvey managed to pitch just 92 2/3 innings in both 2016 and 2017 with just 143 total strikeouts and 119 earned runs allowed. With this season’s terrible start, we’re almost to the point where it’s worth asking the question, “Will Harvey pitch himself out of the majors this season?”
While that seems a bit extreme, the subject of bumping Harvey from the rotation has certainly been broached. Jason Vargas is set to return to the rotation soon, and Harvey’s the obvious candidate to give up his spot if performance is the determining factor. Reporters recently asked Harvey if he’d give his consent to be optioned to the minors (he can’t be optioned without his permission due to his five-year MLB tenure), but he wouldn’t comment on the subject.
A more likely scenario would be for the 14-5 Mets to make Harvey a reliever. For his part, Harvey isn’t thinking about a move to a bullpen, and recently told reporters that he considers himself a starting pitcher. In reality, what Harvey considers himself to be doesn’t really matter if he can’t get outs, so the Mets will have a big decision in the impending days.
Many struggling starters have benefitted greatly from a move to the bullpen, and it doesn’t seem likely at this point that Harvey will revive his career as a starter. However, a miraculous return to his 2013/2015 form would provide the Mets with a huge boost to their seemingly strong playoff chances. What do you think New York should do in regards to their former ace? (Poll link for app users)