By Ed Coleman
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All right, so the bad news is somewhat good news. Yes, Matt Harvey is definitely done for next season after deciding to undergo Tommy John surgery instead of trying to rehab his elbow, but now teammates, fans, etc. will not have to be on edge waiting for which pitch was going to be the one that snapped the ligament that would compromise the 2015 season as well.
You have to feel for Harvey, who will now spend the rest of this year and most of 2014 waiting to re-emerge upon the scene and return to being the dominant pitcher he was for most of this past season. But you also have to feel for manager Terry Collins, Yes, Collins has a two-year deal with an option, but it comes with a one-year mandate – win or you’ll never see year 2. And he now has to accomplish that without his best starter and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
First things first – all involved, including G.M. Sandy Alderson, believe that Harvey will come back as good or better than before.
That’s great for the future, but for the present, the Mets are not going to replace Matt Harvey. Alderson has stated that he has 3 starting pitchers – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler. And he was asked on the Harvey conference call whether he might possibly fill one of the 2 remaining spots with a looming free-agent pitcher.
Sorting all that out, the Mets will be looking for mid-rotation help – in other words, they’ll be looking for 3’s and 4’s, not 1’s and 2’s. And Alderson said as much on the day that they announced the extension for manager Collins.
Look, there really are no “Matt Harvey types” in free agency anyway, so you’re looking at a possible trade for a 200-inning type of pitcher, or dealing with the Bronson Arroyo – Scott Feldman – Scott Kazmir type of pitcher that will be available.
Harvey’s decision also impacts the wealth of young pitching that the Mets have in reserve. Trading away some of those “chips” to fill other holes the team has now probably becomes prohibitive. Alderson was always reluctant to go this course, but now seems even less likely to do so.
So a 5th starter may come from two guys you’ve already seen – Dice-K Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang. And if Matsuzaka pitches like he did in his final 4 Met starts, that would be acceptable. Noah Syndergaard looks like he could follow the path of Harvey and Wheeler to the majors, in other words, be a mid-season addition to the rotation. And the Mets will give a long look towards pitchers like Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero and Jacob DeGrom during spring training to see if they’re ahead of the curve and possibly ready for the big show.
So sometimes bad news can lead to good news – somewhat. There is now certainty about Matt Harvey’s situation. But it’s also made Terry Collins’ situation as a manager who has to win a much more difficult one.
C U soon