We've seen this movie with other pitchers. It begins with potential and helping the team win, but slowly morphs in to a story about one guy, who had success, but is now struggling and only ever speaking about his mechanics, his arm, his velocity, and his health, while limited to only silver linings.
I think of Mike Pelfrey and John Maine, even Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana, all of whom went through a similar cycle, during which each pitcher -- despite previous success -- always ended up spiraling down in to a post-game conversation centered around their personal situation.
The Mets do not need Harvey to be only a pitcher that eats innings and helps save the bullpen from having to pitch starting in the third inning. They are not solely in the business of Matt's personal goals. At 13-5, the Mets are too talented and have too much upside to become the New York Harveys every fifth day.
I agree that the final three innings were a huge positive for Harvey. But, the team's goal and my goal as a fan each night isn't only to have Harvey feel good about himself. The goal is to win.
There is no one that wants what is best for the Mets that isn't wanting the best for Harvey, myself included. I want very much to see him be confident, carefree and consistently effective again because 1) that is good for him personally and professionally, but, more importantly, 2) that is what will help the Mets win the most games. But, much like it was the case for so many pitchers in the past, this has become the story of the boy who cried wolf.
I no longer know what to believe. And, with the Mets no longer being in the business of only development and rebuilding, they need to field the best, most effective players possible.
At the same time, I love how Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland are handling Harvey...
Following Thursday night's 12-4 loss to the Braves, Callaway did not say whether Harvey will get another start, which is currently scheduled for Wednesday night in St. Louis.
The alternative is to fake an injury and put Harvey on the disabled list, convince him to approve being sent to the minor leagues, release him, or move him to the bullpen.
"I am a starting pitcher," Harvey simply stated when asked later about the situation. "That is what my mindset is. That is how I'm going to prepare, and that's how I get ready."
This is the easy answer. I don't think he's being defiant as much as he's speaking about his desire and current reality. The fact is, during the moment when he was talking to reporters, neither Callaway nor Eiland had told him otherwise, so, he's right, he is a starting pitcher.
"Gotta start from the first inning on," Eiland said after the game, according to reporter Matt Ehalt. "You can't take three innings to find yourself."
According to the NY Post, when asked if he'd ever had to force a once-successful starting pitcher to the bullpen, Eiland cited his former closer with the Royals, Wade Davis, who was 31-32 with a 4.57 ERA during 88 starts before the switch.
"It turned out pretty well for him," Eiland concluded, referring to Davis now having 87 career saves, a 1.87 ERA as a reliever and a three-year, $52 million contract to show for it.
I've only heard great things about the connection between Callaway and Eiland and Harvey. My educated hunch is that, based on the work this trio has done together since November, if any two coaches can override Harvey's ego, agent and idealism and get him to be open-minded to being a successful reliever, it's Eiland and Callaway. Mickey and Dave were both once big-league pitchers. They were good, not great. They struggled as starters and eventually moved in to relief to try and continue their careers. They've worked with pitchers that have been through this, including Davis.
In time, we'll know for certain. But I assume Harvey will get one more start, if for no other reason than Vargas will not be 100 percent ready to return by Wednesday. So, in the event a mysterious injury doesn't pop up for him, Harvey should get the ball again in five days.
Believe me, I want him to return to greatness. I hope his next start truly is the first of many, many great moments for him as a starting pitcher. But, if it's not, if he lets up a bunch of runs (even if he's able to pitch six innings), it'll be at that point when the discussion about moving him to the bullpen becomes real for him and the Mets. And if it's the only best, honest move left for him to make, he should consider it. Because, the current path he's on is helping no one, including himself.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!