At the end of the 2013 season, the New York Mets were excited by the young, promising pitching rotation they had built. Having three powerful right-handed pitchers that were good and still hadn’t reached their prime was a great sign for the near future of the Mets. At the top of the rotation was Matt Harvey, who had shown signs of being a Cy Young quality pitcher. However, fast forward to 2018 and Harvey has been sent to the bullpen after years of injury plagued seasons. So, what happened to the young ace?
Harvey was on the rise and building up hype from around the league during his 2013 season. The baseball media gave him the nickname “The Dark Knight” and put him on the pedestal as the next big pitcher. With so many quality starts, his innings pitched started to pile up early in the year. As a young pitcher, he was on pace to throw 240-250 innings for the year and in August, his arm starting to break down.
On August 26, Harvey was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, which ultimately led to Tommy John surgery on October 4th. As a 24-year-old, throwing 178 innings by August was a rapid pace for a pitcher. He missed the 2014 season to take his time in the rehab process and decided to aim for the 2015 season to make his return. At first, he was back to being lights out, and the hype from the media and other players returned. After a run to the World Series in 2015, the road for Harvey got immensely tougher.
After making a few starts in the 2016 season, Harvey’s pitching coach noticed a decline in velocity as well as struggles with command. He continued to pitch, even while struggling mechanically, and his pitching suffered as a result. After going 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts, Harvey opted to have season-ending surgery to resolve a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome. He looked to bounce back from the tough season with a strong showing in 2017.
After starting 2017 with a good two starts, the struggles returned for Harvey, with a vengeance. By June, Harvey had a stress fracture in his scapula that required surgery that would sideline him for 6-8 weeks. He returned by September, but ended the season with a losing 5-7 record and a 6.70 ERA. So far in the 2018 season, he hasn’t been better and being sent to the bullpen could mean the end for the Dark Knight.
From once being considered one of the best pitchers in the league, a combination of not managing innings with significant injuries has led to a stunning downfall for Harvey. After seeing his starts in 2016, Harvey was never the same kind of pitcher after all of his injuries. For somebody that had such a promising future, there’s nothing worse than losing a career to injuries.
Could Harvey be effective in the future? It’s possible, but not probable. No pitcher has returned from this many injuries to their peak performance. Harvey might find a way to be a solid pitcher, but his days of being the Dark Knight are almost certainly past us.