Former Mets RHP Doc Gooden believes RHP Matt Harvey has a lot of baseball left in him, and that he has more than enough velocity to have success.
"If he's throwing 94, 95, as opposed to 98, 100, that's still okay," Gooden told SNY. "Getting ahead of hitters and trusting your fastball, and not worrying about trying to trick guys. Still go with your strength, and make those guys beat your strength."
If he's healthy, and knowing that it's okay -- you can get away with 94 -- it don't have to be 98. I think Matt's going to be fine. I know he has a desire and a fire to win, and that's why I have a lot of confidence in Matt."
Speaking from experience, Gooden -- who debuted with the Mets in 1984 and won the Cy Young award in 1985 -- said you "tend to put added pressure on yourself" when you have immediate success in the majors.
But Gooden thinks Harvey, who has struggled with injuries and ineffectivenss the last two seasons, can rebound.
"It's easy to say, but when you've had injuries, when you fell off a bit from what you were, success brings confidence," Gooden said. "And I think the key with Matt is getting off to a good start. ... Is he going to dominate the way he did before? We don't know. But I think he still has a lot of success and a lot of baseball left in him."
The 28-year-old Harvey, who just agreed to a $5.6 million deal for 2018 to avoid arbitration, had a 6.70 ERA and 1.69 WHIP with just 67 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings this past season as he returned from surgery. He also dealt with an injury to his scapula that kept him out of action from June 15 to Sept. 2.
SNY's Ron Darling expects Harvey to be much-improved in 2018, in his second season after undergoing Thoracic Outlet surgery.
"I think I'd be very surprised if Matt's not throwing close to as hard as he's ever thrown by the time it comes to spring training, a couple of years removed from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome," Darling said in November.
"I think that the signature way of Matt's pitching was power and precision, and the ability of that slider to be a pitch that's unhittable at times," Darling said. "So the power and precision I think are going to be there."
Harvey threw his slider 22.4 percent of the time in 2017 -- the highest rate of his career. But he had trouble locating all season, as he posted the higest walk rate (4.56 per 9) of his career.
"The slider I think, to me, is going to be the most important pitch to watch," Darling said. "If that comes back to where it was a few seasons ago, I think Matt is going to have a huge year."