SNY's Ron Darling expects Mets RHP Matt 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.
The 28-year-old Harvey, who is eligible for free agency after next season, 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.
"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."
The Mets are expected to tender Harvey a contract in advance of Friday's deadline, with him projected to earn $5.85 million through arbitration, according to analysis from Pace University Law School.