The career arc of Matt Harvey is one of the most interesting ones in all of baseball. It ranges from hopeful young prospect to the most exciting pitcher to wear a Mets uniform since Dwight Gooden to a pitcher who has fans wondering if he will ever be an effective player at the major league level again.
Harvey’s arrival in the big leagues was the first sign of hope for Mets fans that better days were ahead. In ten starts, he posted a 2.73 ERA while striking out 10.6 batters per nine innings. His quick ascent to an elite starting pitcher in 2013 brought an electricity to Citi Field which had never been seen before. Each start Harvey made was must-see TV and every time he took the mound, Mets fans thought it could be the night where he threw a perfect game.
Harvey’s dominance was making him a star in New York City. He was named the starting pitcher for the 2013 National League All-Star team and dazzled in his two innings pitched. The stardom for Harvey was brief. A partially torn UCL ligament caused him to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss all of the 2014 season. By the time he returned to the mound in 2015, the buzz surrounding Harvey was not the same as it was just two years prior.
Matt Harvey still had plenty of moments of success during his 2015 season. Though there was the innings limit debacle, Harvey himself stated he wanted to pitch in the playoffs, and that he did. Harvey’s name will forever be etched into Mets history for starting the first ever playoff game at Citi Field. Throughout the 2015 postseason, Harvey was once again the Dark Knight. He was proving his worth as the man who would help bring the Mets back to the promised land.
The top of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the World Series is where it started to go downhill for Harvey. In the midst of one of the best pitching performances to come in an elimination game in recent memory, Harvey demanded he go back out for the ninth inning. Unable to finish the game, the Royals were able to tie it up in the ninth and eventually win the game in 12 innings. Since that moment, Harvey has not been the same pitcher. First, it was the blood clots in his bladder, then it was his maddening ineffectiveness without any answer as to why it was happening, and then the injuries. In 2016 it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and then the broken bone in his shoulder this past season.
These injuries, on top of Tommy John surgery in 2014, have left Harvey a shell of his former self. No longer can he get a batter out with sheer force, but instead by choosing his spots and hitting his location. It is a sad sight, knowing Harvey’s arm was supposed to be worth $200 million when he hit free agency.
Harvey now enters the 2018 season in his final year of his contract with the New York Mets. He is out to prove to people that he can still be a potent starting pitcher in the majors after a dreadful 2017 campaign where he had a 6.70 ERA in just 92.1 innings.
Throughout spring training, we saw a very different Matt Harvey than the one Mets fans have grown accustom to over the years. Gone are the days when Harvey stepped onto the mound with his Dark Knight persona and Citi Field was chanting his name. Now, Harvey talks about progressing each start at a time, forgetting about the past, and not being a weak link in a potentially powerful rotation.
This season will be pivotal for Matt Harvey, both for his future and for how he will be remembered as a Met. If he can regain effectiveness and be a major contributor for the Mets throughout the year, he will up his worth as a free agent. If he fails to be effective and instead brings unnecessary drama into the clubhouse, his time in a Mets uniform will be remembered as what could have been instead of what was. Harvey’s time with the Mets wasn’t supposed to go this way, but in life, things rarely go according to plan.