As Kurt Suzuki rounded the bases on Thursday night for the Atlanta Braves after hitting a two-run homer off of Mats starter Matt Harvey, you started to have a clearer picture that this is what Harvey is at this stage of his career.
He has all the earmarks of an average to below average major league starting pitcher and that is why the decision was made by the Mets braintrust to move the fallen ace to the bullpen. It was the correct decision because his performance is what it is and it was not good enough and the Mets had better options moving forward with Zack Wheeler and the healing Jason Vargas. He might be "pissed off" and “motivated” to prove everyone wrong and that is great to hear and a lot better to hear than him claiming to have turned a corner in the 5thand 6thinnings on Thursday night after allowing 6 runs in earlier innings. His final pitching line on Thursday night was 6IP, 8 hits and 6 earned runs in yet another disappointing start.
It is great that Harvey said he will do whatever he needs to do in order to get back in the starting rotation because that is the exact challenge he faces.
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After the game, Harvey said he viewed himself as a starting pitcher and a starter alone. That is great, but results are results and you have to earn your way in the rotation when you are trying to redefine yourself as a starter. This is a matter of viewpoint. Harvey looks at himself as still the potential he possesses in his right arm. The Mets right now view him as potential realized. Simply put, he is not good enough to remain in the rotation.
You have to remember, this is not what have you done for me lately. The Mets have remained very loyal to Harvey even as he ran his streak to 11 starts in a row of 5 innings or less, which is an atrocious streak for any starter. Harvey has not been good enough as of late to allow him to work through his struggles hoping to get the light bulb effect and he all of the sudden finds his stride.
Harvey needs to take his medicine, just like Zack Wheeler did when he did not break camp in Port St. Lucie with the team and was demoted to Triple-A. Wheeler was angry and ticked off and came back, when given the chance, has pitched relatively well. He reworked his delivery and got back to work and was better off for it. This is not a case of the Mets not doing right by Harvey, they can’t have that kind of singular focus, the Mets need to think of what is best for the team. After all, this is the major leagues and it is no longer about development and potential, it is about getting wins. What is best for the team right now is to get Harvey out of the rotations and try and rebuild him in the bullpen.
To be honest, it is sad. Sad to see a pitcher look like a shell of the starting that once dominated opposing line-ups and actually started for the National League in the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Sad to see Harvey struggle this season with an 0-2 record and a 6.00 ERA as opponents hit a gaudy .302 off of him in 4 starts this season. Sad to see the once confident Harvey search for positives and sad to see a fallen ace look like a shell of his former self with no vision of the once dominant starter anywhere in sight.
The question used to be about how much will Harvey get paid and by whom following this season, his contract year. That question and conversation is no longer valid. Now the discussion is about how long will Harvey remain in the Mets bullpen and can both Manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland rebuild Harvey as a starter as he now gets work as a reliever. Both men have had success with other pitchers in previous destinations. Eiland did it with Danny Duffy in Kansas City and Callaway with Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer in Cleveland.
That is why both Callaway and Eiland were brought in for their respective pitching expertise. Now, it is up to Harvey to figure it out. Harvey needs to be open to what he needs to do now in order to be successful. He should use this as motivation. At times, he has been his own worst enemy, now he needs to be his best friend because this is the toughest test he will face as a healthy pitcher in the major leagues. He needs to prove to himself and everyone else that he can still be a productive starter as he has shown little to no signs that possibility exists. The ‘Dark Knight’ is gone, now it is time for ‘Matt Harvey’ to find himself as the latter as a major league pitcher hangs in the balance.