By Ed Coleman
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Matt Harvey will pitch in October. How do I know that? I don’t. Why do I believe that? Because he’s not a fraud, as many fans and some in the media have labeled him after his head-scratching, non-commital impromptu press conference in Miami on Saturday.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve always found Harvey to be a good teammate. He may want to be at the forefront of the team, and he can sometimes chafe at the lack of attention he receives when he’s absent (2014) or bypassed (skipped starts), but he wants to win in the worst way, and his preferred way is to put his teammates on his back and carry them there. And I do believe he is extremely loyal, and thus neither willing nor able to throw his agent (Scott Boras) or the surgeon he selected (Dr. James Andrews) under the proverbial bus.
Boras put Harvey in a tough spot the other day with his innings-limit proclamation.
Look, I don’t pretend to be privy to any conversation that Boras had with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, but it’s been widely known for quite some time that the club had established parameters of somewhere between 185-195 innings for Harvey, and that did not include postseason innings should the Mets be fortunate enough to get there and Harvey was still healthy enough and strong enough to proceed.
So where has Boras been? You inject yourself into the fray when your client is at 166 innings or so and say hold on? You couldn’t see before this that even with skipped starts you were going to run up against the established cap?
Harvey’s start against the Nationals on Tuesday will be his 26th. With another skipped start factored in, he’ll have three more, possibly two if the Mets are in position to rest him because of their place in the standings. Of the 25 starts Harvey has made, exactly nine have come with four days, or normal, rest. That also means he has had extra rest for nearly two-thirds of his starts. He has thrown 110 pitches one time this season.
Furthermore, Harvey right now sits 27th in innings pitched, yet is 50th in total pitches thrown. He has tried all season to keep his pitch count down, getting outs early in the count and trying to economize his pitches. If you translate pitches thrown to innings, Harvey should be good for slightly over 200 innings (203 to be exact). And, yes, that doesn’t count playoffs.
I think back to watching Harvey in spring training with a foggy memory. I believe he had pitched twice already, the first time aces, the second time not-so-aces. The Mets traveled cross-state to face the Red Sox. When you’re on the road in the spring, you face the real-deal lineup, and Harvey was ready. He was a strike-throwing machine that day, with great command, and dominant once again.
It was early, but I remember thinking that this guy looked like he could throw 230 innings no problem. He won’t (I don’t think), but I think he could.
Boras and the Mets have been on the same page twice already concerning Harvey. First, they both urged him to get the Tommy John surgery done as early as possible and skip the rehab try and, secondly, they both advised him to skip pitching in September last season, and the 17-month layoff (longer than normal) has obviously helped.
As has happened in the past, did Harvey handle things here in Miami as well as possible? Not even close. But before you tar-and-feather him and ride him out of town on a rail, consider this: Boras and Andrews will meet to figure out a workable scenario if one exists. Harvey has consistently said he wants the ball in October and, yes, I believe him, and, yes, I want the ball in his hands.
I think the Mets play October baseball beyond the regular season. If you think that, do you really think Matt Harvey lets innings limits chain him to a bench to sit and just root? I think not. Kill him if you want or you will, I’ll take him on the hill. And I think he’ll be there.
C U soon