On a comfortable Saturday evening in the Hudson Valley, Matt Harvey made the first start of his rehab assignment for the Brooklyn Cyclones as they visited the Renegades. Overall, the results weren’t particularly inspiring, as he walked the first batter he faced, gave up a run on one hit, and didn’t strike anyone out.
Given the amount of time that had passed since he last faced hitters, that sort of scenario might typically be attributed to rust. But the things that didn’t look so good in this outing were the same things that had gotten him into trouble when he was on the major league mound earlier this year. Harvey struggled to throw strikes—he nearly walked another batter in the inning but got a generous strike call—to the point that even Low-A hitters were able to lay off his pitches. He also sat at 92 miles per hour and touched 93 with his fastball. And again, that’s something that could be attributed to the timing, but Harvey’s fastball, while still in the mid-90s, had been slower this year than in years past.
It is entirely possible that this rehab outing looks like a minor bump along the road as he makes his return to the Mets and that all of these issues are resolved, or at least improved upon, as soon as his next outing. But if Harvey ends up pitching like his 2017 self when he returns, it wouldn’t be shocking. And those major league results so far and the ones that have yet to come needn’t be overanalyzed. The surgery that Harvey underwent for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome typically takes quite a toll on a pitcher’s performance. Harvey might very well return to being a top-notch pitcher at some point. But if he doesn’t do that down the stretch for the Mets this year, nobody should be shocked.