Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
No one could possibly know what Matt Harvey will bring to the Mets next season, certainly not with spring training still two months away and so much doubt lingering over the pitcher once known as the Dark Knight of Gotham.
Still, several teammates expressed hope Thursday that Harvey can rebound from the wreckage of two injury-ravaged seasons, including the worst one of his career in 2017.
"I'm rooting for him, always pushing for him," Noah Syndergaard said Thursday at the Mets' annual holiday party for kids. "A healthy Matt Harvey is pretty dangerous, so hopefully he can come back to (2013). I'm looking forward to seeing how 2018 pans out for all of us."
Harvey, who will be 29 in March, was 5-7 in 18 starts last season with a 6.70 ERA, which is the highest-ever by a Mets pitcher with at least 70 innings pitched, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He had the worst WHIP, the worst home run rate, the worst walk rate and the worst strikeout rate of his career.
After his final start, he called it a positive that the season was over, and who could blame him?
But now he has more time removed from his 2016 surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Maybe having more distance from the operation will help him regain command.
He will become a free agent after this season, so he's pitching for his next contract -- a pact that once seemed destined to have a long line of zeroes on it. Those expectations should be tempered now, but he can certainly enhance his value with a comeback year.
He's done it before -- he pitched to a 2.71 ERA in 2015, a nice return after his 2014 Tommy John surgery.
"The further away from any surgery, it's better for whoever is trying to recover," said reliever Jerry Blevins, who, like Syndergaard, played an elf at the holiday shindig. "I have spoken to (Harvey) a few times. He seems to be heading forward. I know we expect big things from him and I'm sure he does from himself.
"Just happy for a friend to be healthy and be back out there."
Of course, Harvey's created his own trouble, too, getting suspended for three games last year by the Mets after not reporting for work one day.
Whatever drama comes along with Harvey, who started the 2013 All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field and was then one of the game's brightest young stars, the Mets need him to deliver innings at the very least. Their rotation depth was shattered last year, in part because Harvey missed time with a stress injury to his right scapula.
The Mets at least share some semblance of hope with their players about Harvey or they wouldn't be tendering him a contract for 2018. They certainly didn't want to non-tender him and have him figure it out elsewhere -- at least while he remained under their control.
Harvey, who made $5.125 million last season, is eligible for arbitration for the final time before free agency. The club might as well take a chance that he re-blooms into an effective pitcher again with the open market looming next winter.
His teammates know they need him.
"Hopefully, he's used a little bit of this offseason just to kind of de-brief a little bit, to kick back and relax and grind and work out and get ready for next year," said Elf No. 3, Kevin Plawecki. "I know that his expectations are gonna be high, but I think all of us (have high expectations).
"I know he's looking forward to getting back out there and I'm hoping he can get his, kind of, mojo back, if you will."