Matt Harvey wants to pitch more ahead of the postseason, and he will
Almost month ago, the notion that Matt Harvey would even consider pitching at this time of year was not a practical concept to consider.
Recall on September 5 in Miami, Harvey sat in the visitors dugout in Miami, and told reporters he would not commit beyond his September 8 start against the Nationals, citing concerns over his long-term health and noting he hired his agent, Scott Boras, and his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, to put him in the best possible position in the future.
But after a whirlwind of controversy and a foray of public criticism, Harvey has reversed course on his position from a month ago, as he felt the revised program, skipped and abbreviated starts were hindering his sharpness when he does pitch.
And on Sunday, Terry Collins said in Cincinnati his ace right-hander personally requested he be allowed to throw regularly and up to 100 pitches.
“I need to throw 100 pitches in my next two outings,” Collins said Harvey told him last week. “We’re going to win this, and I need to be ready for the playoffs, and I’m not ready. In the game against the Yankees, I finally felt comfortable in the fifth inning, and I came out. I’ve got to get ready.”
Collins said he needed clearance from GM Sandy Alderson before allowing him to pitch under what really are normal circumstances for any other pitcher.
“It’s his call,” Alderson told Collins.
So, Collins then allowed Harvey to pitch into the seventh inning during Saturday’s National League East clinching game.
“I know this guy real well,” Collins explained. “When you saw the look on his face after I took him out of the Yankee game, he was disturbed. He understood it, but he was not happy with it. So I was not surprised when he walked in and said, ‘I want to pitch.’ I said, ‘It’s always been your call. You have to make the decisions. It’s your life. It’s your career. You’re going to make the call. If you want to pitch, you’re going to pitch.’”
There probably isn’t a person on the planet who didn’t understand Harvey’s position on the matter. Tommy John Surgery is a serious procedure designed to restore a player’s ability to throw at any level of the game. It is a long, arduous, and for a player, a seemingly endless recovery which takes one year to return from, and another year to get back to 100 percent assuming there are no setbacks.
And in fairness to Harvey, his arm enables him to have a career. This is what he does for a living, even though he has made a lot of money, and stands to earn even more if he continues to be this successful.
That’s not what the problem was.
The problem was he was caught between a rock and a hard place, was not prepared for what ensued from what was presumably fear over information he received and the bad advice which followed.
That in turn made him and his agent look terrible, put the team in a compromised position which affected their game plans.
“Nobody was mad at Matt,” the manager explained on Sunday. “It was just the whole situation I think guys were mad at. Not Matt. We’re fighting for the pennant here. Nobody was mad at Matt. Just like me, I wasn’t mad at Matt. It was the situation.”
Is it wise for him to suddenly ignore the warnings he received? There’s no scientific evidence to suggest its either wise or foolish, other than a handful of pitchers who have case histories, as Scott Boras pointed out.
But everybody is different, especially Harvey who had a much longer layoff than most other patients at his level have had.
The Mets have been ultra conservative with him, especially at the end of 2014 when Harvey was toying with the idea of pitching in a meaningless September and the team nixed that idea before he could even finish the sentence.
In his gut, he probably knows that. And he also knows how important he is to the team and their chances to go deep into the postseason.
And he demonstrated on Saturday how important all of this is to him. It could be heard in his voice as he trembled while speaking during the clubhouse celebration.
“This is the best day of my baseball career by far,” Harvey proclaimed in the clubhouse after Saturday’s game. “We’re here to stay, we’re here to do this more often. That’s what we’re about. Today couldn’t have played out any better. I couldn’t be more excited for us, for our team and where we’re going.”
Is it genuine? Only he knows for sure. But he certainly sounded like he was speaking from the heart on Saturday, and his desire to reverse course and do what is best for his team supports that theory.
And his performance and willingness to make the decision he made on Saturday won back some of the hearts he had lost over the last month, too.