Mets RHP Matt Harvey was charged with two runs in 3 1/3 innings Wednesday against the Marlins. He tossed 67 pitches, gave up five hits, walked one batter, struck out three and was hit on the back of his leg by a line drive.
His fastball reportedly sat between 92 and 95 mph and his slider was clocked at 87 mph."I think it's still early," Harvey said, when asked after the game about his velocity. "The velocity will come in time. I just need to push forward."
Nevertheless, according to Newsday's Marc Carig, pitching coach Dan Warthen said after the game that it's possible Harvey could end up throwing at this velocity through at least May, if not all season, since the effects of last year's surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome are not yet known.
"History says with that surgery it's 10 months out," Warthen said, according to Carig and Daily News reporter Kristie Ackert. "That's when you start to really feel strong. Generally when you open a season you gain two miles per hour, so if he's playing it at 94-95, it's a completely different story."
Mar. 2017; PHarvey (33) warms up before a spring training game at First Data Field. Credit: Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
In the meantime, Warthen told Carig it will be important for Harvey to learn to pitch with less, especially since he appeared to dip in velocity when trying to reach back and throw harder.
"I'm not worried about velocity, I'm worried about command," Mets manager Terry Collins said, noting that Harvey wasn't sharp with his off-speed pitches. "If his command's good, he can pitch."
In either case, Harvey said he isn't overly concerned about his numbers and results, but is instead focused on how he is feeling mechanically and mentally when on the mound...
"I think it's more about being able to slow the game down and stay within my mechanics," he explained. "And, although the outcome wasn't very good today, for me, the success that I had mechanically today was really exciting."
I understand the concern. Harvey looks mostly fine, but Warthen is wise to say what he said, because it's better to manage everyone's expectations (including Harvey) than make it seem like the sky is falling. Because, the truth is, no one knows who the post-TOS Harvey will be. He may never be the guy we saw in 2013 -- or, he could be better, despite throwing softer. We are all slowly finding out the answer to this question, just like Matt and Dan...
That said, I have no idea why some people are so concerned with fastball velocity. Warthen and TC are right, in that it's ALL about command not speed. Plus, If you talk to any pitcher of any era, they will tell you velocity is meaningless and an indication of nothing, especially during the middle of March. In fact, it's so unimportant that pitching coaches often request that the radar gun be turned off on the scoreboard during spring games so that pitchers are less aware of it and can better focus on their overall game plan.
The reality is that Harvey is currently throwing in the low- to mid-90s, which actually feels normal considering it's March 16, he's in his first spring training since major surgery for TOS, he missed most of last season and he still has three more exhibition starts before any of this actually matters. And for what it's worth, despite all of the above, he's just a few miles per hour less than his average and effective mid-season fastball...
If there's any real cause for concern, like Warthen said, it's that Harvey -- again -- appears to be losing velocity as the game goes on and is paying for it in hits and runs. And, when coupled with his lack of command, this can be a problem, especially as the game goes on. This may be typical for a pitcher at this stage of his recovery and at this point in the spring, but -- even if it isn't -- there is still plenty of time for him to work it out.
Basically, based on what I'm reading and seeing from him so far, I'd say I'm kind-of, sort-of, maybe concerned, but mostly optimistic about how he's doing and where I think he's headed...