Matt Harvey says he knew about the 180 inning cap, not committing to pitching beyond Tuesday
Since Matt Harvey was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his right elbow, the club has made every last effort to accommodate his operation, recovery and pitching program.
Last year, the club went against company policy to allow Harvey to rehab in New York as opposed to the team’s minor league complex, where everyone in the organization with an injury spends their time rehabbing for every injury.
In an effort to manage his innings limit and pitches thrown in 2015, the club has attempted to go to a six-man rotation to afford him extra rest and to keep him under such limits, only to have him publicly and privately disagree with the program, saying several times he simply wanted to pitch.
So, the Mets ditched the six-man rotation at every juncture, seemingly to accommodate Harvey and his displeasure with pitching more infrequently.
But now that the Mets are finally positioned for a playoff run into October, Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, has reportedly expressed concern publicly for Harvey’s long-term health, saying the Mets will essentially ignore the limit suggested by doctors of 180 innings, which is now rapidly approaching since he already has thrown 166 innings in 2015.
The Mets, meanwhile, have reportedly said Harvey was informed the Mets might exceed the planned target by a little bit, and that the original number was not statically assigned.
That plan, according to assistant GM John Ricco in Miami on Friday, is for Harvey to pitch no more than 195 regular season innings and for him to have a reasonable workload in the postseason.
To meet those requirements, Ricco said Harvey will make four more starts in the regular season as part of a six-man rotation, and get skipped one more time as well.
“We’ve consulted with Matt all the way through, and we will continue to do that. I don’t think anything will change,” Ricco said on Friday. “It’s not my experience that you have a doctor mandating [innings limits] for a pitcher.”
But Harvey, who has said time and time again all he wants to do is pitch and pitch in the playoffs, seems to have had a sudden change of heart.
“I know from having 178 the year before I took off, I think the whole idea was not to exceed too much more than that,” the right-hander said on Saturday in Miami.
Harvey did say there is a difference between his situation and Stephen Strasburg’s in 2012 when he was shutdown in advance of the playoffs, as he didn’t pitch for 17 months in between his elbow surgery.
Still, Harvey claims he was informed by Dr. James Andrews, who performed Tommy John Surgery on Harvey’s elbow in October, 2013, that 180 innings would be the limit in his first year back.
Sandy Alderson said he will join the team in Washington on Monday, speak with Harvey in person, and then address the media, all ahead of their biggest series in seven years.
Harvey is clearly keeping his own best interests in mind, which is presumably why he’s now taking this revised stance.
“I never want to put the ball down,” Harvey said. “Obviously, I hired Scott as my agent and went with Dr. Andrews as my surgeon because I trusted them to keep my career going and keep me healthy. As far as being out there and being with my teammates and playing, I’m never going to want to stop. But as far as the surgeon and the agent having my back and looking out for the best of my career, they’re obviously speaking their minds.”
Harvey is now not committing to anything – including the possibility of pitching in the playoffs – beyond his start against the Nationals on Tuesday.
Boras would not have gone public with this without Harvey’s consent. So, it’s clear Harvey has communicated concerns of some kind to his agent. Whether that means he’s worried about jeopardizing his future, he’s hurt, or both, there’s a reason why this has happened.
And in fairness to Harvey, he should be concerned with his health and the longevity of his career. He’s not unlike any other professional athlete. In Harvey’s case, he’s made his agenda abundantly clear: he wants to make as much money as possible when the time comes.
As he said, it’s why he hired Scott Boras to be his agent.
But this doesn’t look good at all for the player or the agent, and the timing of all of this is incredibly bad and awkward as well. The player was defiant in every way when the team did everything possible to protect him. They’ve focused all of their pitching plans around ensuring Harvey was getting the rest he needed every turn through the rotation, and he repeatedly complained about a six-man rotation, being skipped, and so on. He’s also griped about being taken out of games at times, too.
So he wanted to pitch before, and just four days after wanting to stay in for a seventh inning, he doesn’t?
Apparently Harvey indeed wants to continue pitching, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and both he and Dr. Andrews will be meeting this week to outline a proposed plan for Harvey for the rest of the season.
“Matt Harvey wants to pitch,” Boras told Rosenthal. “We’re trying to work out a plan that the doctor approves of.”
Boras told Rosenthal this only became an issue in August when the chances for the Mets making the playoffs dramatically increased.
“My assumption was that they were doing the Strasburg approach,” Boras told Rosenthal. “Keep pitching him on his normal day. Let him throw his innings. If he gets there and he’s healthy, great. But you may have to shut him down before the end of the season.
“My assumption was that is where we were headed. When the playoffs came up, I called in August and said, ‘The playoffs are coming. Where are we on this?’”
It all just looks really, really bad. It looks like he’s hanging his employer and his teammates out to dry, an employer who did everything they could to keep him happy for two years throughout this process.
He and his agent are also making it look like the Mets had no idea there was a 180 innings limit on him, which just cannot be true.
In the end, it’s a negative distraction as the team is trying to focus on getting to the playoffs and putting the best possible team on the field.