Coming into the 2018 season, nobody expected Matt Harvey to resemble anything close to the elite pitcher who took the baseball world by storm in 2012 and started Game 1 and Game 5 of the 2015 World Series for the New York Mets. Still, with a lot to prove to the team and to himself heading into the final year before free agency, there was some hope that “The Dark Knight” could rebound from back-to-back nightmare seasons and become a moderately effective starter that could help stabilize the back-end of the club’s rotation.
After having a respectable spring training (4.50 ERA in five starts) where he regularly hit the mid-to-high 90’s with his four-seam fastball, things seemed to be trending upwards for the former ace. Harvey made his season debut on April 3 at Citi Field against the Philadelphia Phillies and tossed five scoreless innings while allowing one hit and striking out five in the victory. It was a solid start, although Harvey was only able to dial up his fastball to around 93mph, which was well below the 96.56mph average (according to Brooks Baseball) that he routinely reached during his prime.
Unfortunately, that outing was the highlight of the remainder of his time in a Mets uniform. Over his next three starts, he allowed a total of 14 earned runs and 25 hits in 16 innings pitched while striking out 12 and walking three. On April 21, the Mets announced that Harvey had been removed from the rotation and joined the bullpen. In his relief debut on April 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals, he took over for Zack Wheeler and allowed the go-ahead run to score in the fifth inning in a game that the Mets would go on to win in extra innings.
From there, he was relegated to mop-up duty the rest of the way. In his last appearance for the Mets – an 11-0 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Braves on May 3 – Harvey was tagged for five earned runs in the seventh inning and was booed off the mound after Mickey Callaway pulled him from the game. In four relief appearances, Harvey had a 10.50 ERA in six innings, with opposing batters posting a 1.109 OPS against him.
On May 5, the team officially designated Harvey for assignment after he refused to take a demotion to the minor leagues. Three days later, Harvey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for catcher Devin Mesoraco. He closed out his final year in New York with a 7.00 ERA and a 5.68 FIP in 27 innings while posting a 16.3% strikeout rate and a 7.3% walk rate. He completed his Mets tenure with a 3.66 ERA in 639.1 innings pitched, with his 612 strikeouts ranking 14th on the team’s all-time list.
Harvey’s time with the Mets began with boundless potential and endless possibilities before his career was eventually derailed by injuries. Harvey was simply a different pitcher after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and having surgery in 2016 to relieve the problem. In the end, he was never able to recover into the pitcher the team and its fans expected and saw his tenure with the club end unceremoniously.