To be successful again, Matt Harvey must shed his past, move on from the Dark Knight persona, and adjust to being the best pitcher he's currently capable of being, Mets manager Mickey Callaway told SNY during an interview Monday night on Mets Hot Stove.
"I think that's the key, to make sure you're not trying to get him back to anything," Callaway explained. "You want to get the most potential out of who he is today."
"Some guys never throw with the same velocity," Callaway said about players aging and returning from major surgery. "We don't need the Dark Knight, we need Matt Harvey to be Matt Harvey on a daily basis and be comfortable with who he is."
I'd buy stock in Harvey, who I think is going to win Comeback Player of the Year next season. I truly believe he's going to thrive due to a combination of him being a free agent one year from now, plus being a full year removed from TOS surgery, several years removed from TJ surgery, being publicly embarrassed by last season's results, and being able to hear new ideas and be motivated by Callaway.
Specifically, I think Mickey is going to be terrific for Matt. I expect Callaway's experience, way of talking, and his philosophies about life and pitching to be exactly what Harvey needs from a physical and psychological perspective.
In regards to shedding the Dark Knight persona, this is literally what I had been saying over and over again all last summer, which is that Matt still has plenty of skill and ego to be a successful pitcher. But, it will only happen for him when he stops trying to execute his old approach to pitching because his body may no longer be able to meet the demand. Matt is very self-aware. But, he has to apply that to his physical talent and bring it all together in a new way to get guys out.
In fairness to Dan Warthen, who was clearly unable to connect with Harvey in the way he needed to be reset and motivated, Harvey's body may also have only been in need of time... time away from the game, time away from surgeries, etc. That has happened. Now, Matt will get the added benefit of getting Callaway and Eiland, both of whom are known for making other pitchers successful with the exact thing Harvey is in need of the most. I can't wait to see how they connect...
Harvey had a 2.84 ERA after his first four starts in 2017. However, during his next nine starts, he went 3-6, allowed 33 runs in 45 innings, walked 30, and struck out just 37 batters. Then, Harvey went on the disabled list for more than two months with a stress-related injury to his right shoulder.
He returned to make six starts, during which he allowed 28 runs in 22 1/3 innings, finding a 5-7 record with a 1.694 WHIP for the season. His final 6.70 ERA ended up as the worst ever in franchise history for a pitcher making at least 15 starts in a season.
"This nightmare of a season is over for me," a relieved Harvey said in September. "Throughout this process of coming back from thoracic outlet, it's just been curveball after curveball of different feelings, different strengths. It was something I tried to push through, some uncomfortable pain, some weakness, and I think I just put myself in a hole throughout the process."
Teams are interested in trading for Harvey
Interested teams have contacted the Mets to see if they're open to trading Harvey before the start of next season, sources recently told SNY contributor Andy Martino.
However, according to Martino, the Mets are more inclined to keep Harvey, who will enter next year a full season removed from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. Also, Martino adds, "They point to a late-season uptick in velocity as another reason for hopefulness," and, "believe he will be especially motivated to work hard to prepare for his last season under team control."
According to Pace University Law School's projections for SNY, Harvey should expect to earn a $5.8 million salary in 2018, after which he will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
In September, despite it being possible the Mets could non-tender Harvey and make him a free agent a year early, Sandy Alderson said he expected his former ace to be with the Mets in 2018.
To hear more from Martino, tune to Mets Hot Stove and Baseball Night in New York this week on SNY at 6 p.m., as well as GEICO SportsNite at 10:30 p.m.