Shaky Matt Harvey nixed option of skipping next start for Mets

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

WASHINGTON -- New York Mets officials gave Matt Harvey the option of skipping a rematch with the Washington Nationals.

The Dark Knight's response: No way.

So manager Terry Collins intends to hand Harvey the baseball on his standard turn on Tuesday at Nationals Park, despite Harvey allowing a career-high nine runs in a career-low 2 innings on Thursday at Citi Field against the Nats. That outing prompted Harvey's ERA to swell to 5.77 in nine starts this season.

"Obviously it's frustrating being out there right now when you're not doing well and not helping the team," Harvey told on Monday afternoon. "As a teammate, your objective is to do everything you can to win games and help us succeed. And I wasn't doing that. So, obviously, they gave me an option to be skipped or whatnot and really try to figure things out. For me, taking time off isn't going to do anything. It's finding it on the mound.

"I'm not a quitter. I'm not going to just quit and put the ball down. It's a fight. It was good for me to do that."

Said manager Terry Collins: "Nobody is more frustrated than him. He said, 'I'm not backing away from this.' A lot of guys would have taken that out. He had a shot to. He could have said, 'I need to get away from this.' But he didn't. He just said, 'I've got to get back out there and I've got to pitch. That's the only way I'm going to get through this.' I thought that was the most impressive part of it."

Harvey took the unusual step between starts of throwing to teammate Matt Reynolds and first-base coach Tom Goodwin on the main stadium mound at Citi Field on Saturday.

Harvey described that session as useful. It is difficult to work to refine mechanics in games because the premium is on getting hitters out. Saturday's session provided the opportunity to have batters in the box -- with the ability to stop and refine things even within an at-bat.

"It's uncomfortable when I know my mechanics are off and I'm not throwing from the right arm slot to try to pitch in front of that many people in a game situation," Harvey said. "For me to slow things down and have our own hitters in there with no fielding, not really a game situation, to kind of slow the mechanics down and get a chance to really feel what was right and what was wrong [was useful]. When I did it wrong, I was able to stop -- stop my mechanics -- and be able to start over. In a game you can't start over."

Pitching on the main stadium mound also gave the Mets the ability to scrutinize data from their TrackMan system that primarily is utilized during games. It reinforced that Harvey's mechanics were consistent late in Saturday's simulated game.

"I think it does release point, it does arm slot, it does angle," Harvey said about the tracking system. "It does all that stuff. For me it was good that once I started feeling like I was throwing the ball correctly and comfortably, it was all the same. I think in my last 20 pitches I had a very consistent arm slot."

The Mets have struggled to identify the reason for Harvey's profound struggles this season. There has been speculation his arm, while not injured, is suffering from a hangover after logging 216 innings in 2015. That's the most innings ever logged in a first season back from Tommy John surgery.

Agent Scott Boras recently noted that fellow client Stephen Strasburg, another returnee from Tommy John surgery, had a 10.13 ERA in five starts last May. Strasburg went on to produce a 1.90 ERA in his final 10 starts of last season after returning from neck and oblique injuries.

Harvey, who opposes Strasburg for the second straight start on Tuesday, said he does not take solace in knowing a fellow phenom had a poor month in 2015 and then rebounded.

"I understand and I know how poorly I'm doing. It's not even a comparison to anybody else," Harvey said. "It's a feeling that I don't have of throwing the ball correctly. It's kind of a weird funk. It's frustrating when you're going out there and I don't feel like I'm throwing the ball the way I'm supposed to and I'm getting knocked around. It's an unsettling feeling.

"It's one thing if I'm going out there and I feel like I'm going through my mechanics correctly, I'm releasing the ball correctly, I feel normal, and I'm getting knocked around. That's one thing. But now I've really gotten in such a bad habit and a bad funk that it's me just beating myself. That's the frustrating part."

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