Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Matt Harvey has few allies left in the Mets' organization or fan base. He has long since been a divisive figure among teammates, and his new pitching coach seems to have little use for his postgame explanations.
"The game starts in the first inning, not the fourth," Dave Eiland told reporters in Atlanta Thursday night, after Harvey noted that he was at least able save the bullpen after getting bombed early by the Braves.
That general sense of exhaustion and skepticism leaves Harvey with little leverage as the Mets consider whether to let him make his next start, as they are currently doing. A front office's job is to zoom out, remove emotion, and make decisions that work for an entire roster.
As Mickey Callaway pointed out, the team needs to consider which Met pitcher will make for a more effective reliever. They need to consider if sending Harvey to the bullpen will cause them to lose him for the rest of the year (and one friend of Harvey's wondered last night if exactly that would happen) -- and remember, a motivated Harvey can still help the Mets more than a depressed Harvey.
During the offseason, team officials expressed genuine optimism that Harvey was in great shape, and motivated to succeed in his walk year. Callaway and Eiland lobbied Sandy Alderson not to trade Harvey (though one wonders if they regret that now). Evaluators saw positive signs through spring training, and during his first start of the regular season.
Now, everyone is once again mystified by his ineffectiveness. Some wonder if the thoracic outlet syndrome from two years ago has left permanent damage. Others speculate that he pushed himself too hard during the 2015 playoff run, while still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still others question if he is self-aware enough to make the necessary adjustments.
Harvey himself declared "I'm a starting pitcher," and the view from here is that he is right to speak his mind. Who can blame a person for expressing a wish to persist with his career goal? Let's show a little empathy for a man in professional crisis. But empathy doesn't mean that the Mets have to grant Harvey's wish.
These are the complex factors that the team is weighing today, in the wake of Harvey's latest disappointment.