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Harvey is at a crossroads

Leslie Monteiro



Happy Harvey Day!

Remember when it was a phenomenon whenever Matt Harvey starts? Remember when it was an event? Nowadays, it’s more of dread than anticipation.

Friday night was the most anticipated start for Harvey since his showdown with Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg at Citi Field on April 19, 2013. That was the night Mets fans chanted “HARVEY’S BETTER!” with pride from the stands, outside Citi Field and at the 7 train. That came after Harvey outpitched Strasburg in the Mets’ 7-1 victory over the Nationals by giving up a run on four hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.


It was the most anticipated start for all the wrong reasons. Harvey is coming off being suspended for not showing up to work Saturday after he told the Mets he had a “migraine”. According to the New York Post’s Page Six, it turned out he was out drinking on Cinco de Mayo at 1Oak while being depressed about his-then date Adriana Lima leaving him and dancing with Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. He apologized to his teammates, his coaches, the Mets front office and Fred and Jeff Wilpon on Tuesday before the Mets’ game against the Giants.

It did not turn out well for the once-Mets’ ace. Eric Sogard (two-run blast) and Orlando Arcia (solo) hit back-t0-back home runs off Harvey in the sixth inning that helped the Brewers regain the lead after the Mets tied it at 2.  Overall, Harvey allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings while giving up three home runs and walking five hitters in the Mets’ 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Here are the ugly numbers for the beleaguered Mets starter: In his last four starts, he is 0-3 with an 8.86 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP. He has allowed 10 home runs in just 40 innings of work.  He has walked the last 13 batters in his last three starts.  In other words, he is pitching like a pedestrian starter.

What’s troubling about Harvey besides his low velocity and lack of command is he seems to be done when the game is in the middle innings. Hitters start figuring him out then, and he loses all sorts of command. He seems fatigued by the time the game is in the fifth inning.

This is not encouraging for a troubled starter that has to get it going now. They need him to get into a groove. He has been a disappointment for his standards so far in this young season. His recent behavior does not help his cause.

One can’t help but wonder if he is finished as a starter. We know Harvey and Mets are going to have a divorce when all is said and done. He needs a change of scenery, and the Mets have grown tired of his antics. But for that to happen, they both need each other. The Mets need their former stopper to be dominant again, so that they can get value for him in a trade, and he needs the Mets to help him do well by giving him starts. If that does not work, neither one looks good.

Harvey has to do well, so he can still get paid what he believes he is worth when he is a free agent. He still feels he can command top dollar. It will come down to whether or not he can get back to being great. If he is pedestrian, he will be paid like a No. 5 pitcher. He has so much on the line.

The Mets need the Dark Knight because he gives them the best chance of making the playoffs. They need him to be dominant. Outside of Jacob deGrom, the Mets starting rotation does not inspire confidence. Zack Wheeler has been okay at best, which is to be expected after not pitching for several years. Robert Gsellman has not pitched at the level he pitched last year, which he has command problems and he gives up hits like free candy.  Newly acquiredTommy Milone pitches like an average starter at best. Rafael Montero is a lost cause. Who knows if Noah Syndergaard can pitch like an ace when he comes back? Steven Matz and Seth Lugo should be back soon in the rotation as they are on the disabled list, but there’s no guarantee they will be effective.

It’s been a while since Harvey was Harvey. Mets fans have slowly given up on him, and some of them demand him to get it going now. That’s why all eyes were on him Friday night. Mets fans couldn’t care less about his apology. They care about him giving quality starts, which would be an improvement.

Mets fans have been tired of his act for a long time going back to when Harvey wondered if he should pitch in the postseason couple of years ago. He was advised by his agent Scott Boras not to go over his innings limit for that season. He eventually pitched in the postseason, and he did okay until he blew a ninth inning lead in Game 5 of the World Series that basically ended the Mets season.

The fading Mets star could have used a good start against the Brewers on Friday night. What the Mets wanted to see is him pitching well for seven innings while giving up a run on three hits. That would have been an ideal start to build around. It could have been a start of redemption for the troubled Met.

Maybe he figures it out next start or two starts from now. Or maybe by next month. There’s a chance he may never figure it out.

Who would’ve thought he would be in a crisis at what was once a promising career?

Harvey is finding out life comes at him fast.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.