MLB

MLB: Is This the end for Pitcher Matt Harvey?

In 2013, Matt Harvey was the talk of New York. The Mets pitcher made the NL All-Star team and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting. Within a few seasons, things began to get worse.

Based on how recent events have gone for Harvey, that may as well have been a century ago. He’s struggled mightily in recent seasons, and it looks like the end of his career may be near. The Los Angeles Angels recently released Harvey after they signed him earlier in 2019. So, is this the end for Matt Harvey? 

Matt Harvey career recap

A highly-touted high school prospect in Connecticut, Harvey played his college ball at the University of North Carolina. The Mets drafted the pitcher in 2010 in a stacked draft class that included Bryce Harper, Noah Syndergaard, and Manny Machado. 

Harvey showed a lot of promise in New York. He finished the 2013 season with a record of 9-5 and a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts. After missing 2014 due to injury, he rebounded strongly in 2015 with a 13-8 record and a 2.71 ERA. Harvey helped lead the Mets to the NL pennant that season, though they fell short in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals.

Then Harvey’s excellence subsided only to be replaced by stubborn and frustrating inconsistency. In 2016 and 2017, he finished with 4.86 and 6.70 ERAs, respectively, while again battling injury, ending his honeymoon with Mets fans. In 2018 he had an ERA of 7.00 for the Mets before they gave up and dealt him to the Cincinnati Reds. 

This season, Harvey emerged with the Angels and a chance to start anew, signing an $11 million contract in the offseason. It hasn’t gone well, as his ERA has ballooned to 7.09 with only 39 strikeouts in 12 starts. 

Matt Harvey’s injury history

Starting pitcher Matt Harvey enjoyed success with the Mets, but then his career went into a tailspin.
Matt Harvey’s injury problems started with the Mets and continued with the Angels. | Patrick McDermott/Washington Nationals/Getty Images

Injuries have played a significant role in Harvey’s declining performance. Take a look at the four devastating injuries he’s suffered over the course of his career: 

  • 2013: Harvey suffered a partial tear in his UCL, leading to him receiving Tommy John surgery that knocked him out of the entire 2014 season. 
  • 2016: After doctors diagnosed him with thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey had surgery that ends his season prematurely. 
  • 2017: A stress fracture to his scapula sent Harvey back to the injured list. 
  • 2019: The ink on his new Angels’ deal barely dried before Harvey hurt his back in May, sending him to the injured list yet again. 

Injuries have only played one role in Harvey’s downfall. The velocity on his fastball has also steadily decreased. A pitcher without a decent fastball is like a golfer without a good putting stroke. 

Where does he go from here? 

There is no way around it: Matt Harvey has had a rotten 2019. As bad as he’s been, though, there is a glimmer of hope for the wayward pitcher.

Teams are always in need of starting pitching depth during a playoff race. While Harvey’s performance has been subpar, he could be called on as a back of the rotation arm or a long relief man.  

Of course, if Harvey can’t improve his performance, he won’t see any opportunities. Still, it would be shocking if not even one team expressed interest in him. At the very least, someone with a severe need for pitching help could sign him to a minor league deal. 

Harvey could also take the rest of 2019 off and come back, refreshed and healthy for 2020. The odds of him getting at least the league minimum offer are high. Pitching is always at a premium. If Harvey can reinvent himself as a setup man – not having to get through lineups two or three times – he could extend his shelf life by a few seasons.