This past week in the Mets season was not as exciting as previous weeks. The had an underwhelming 2-4 record this week with the bullpen faltering in high leverage situations twice and the team lost two consecutive series.
The biggest news of the week was not the Mets struggles but their decision to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen. Harvey is heading to the bullpen because Jason Vargas will be coming off the disabled list soon and will be able to start this upcoming week. The move was both surprising and something fans could see coming from a mile away.
The former Dark Knight was not expected to return to his peak form but was supposed to be an average major league pitcher. After an encouraging 5 shutout innings to start the season Harvey simply stunk. In his next three starts, he went 16 innings and allowed 14 runs and 25 hits.
His last start was the last straw. he went 6 innings, his longest outing of the season, but he also got absolutely hammered, allowing 6 runs and 8 hits. Harvey did have a strong final three innings and probably could’ve gone out for another if Callaway wanted him to but the damage was done.
The day after that 6 inning, 6 run start was made the Mets decided to move the former Cy Young contender to the bullpen, not to stay but to help him become an effective starter again down the road. When asked about how he felt after being moved to the bullpen he said: “Out of a scale of 1-10 I am obviously at a 10 of being pissed off.”
Harvey felt that the final 3 innings of that start when he retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced showed that when things click he can be one of the best in the game. In response to that notion, Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland said: “the game starts in the first inning, not the fourth.” The most important thing I took away from that statement was that the Matt Harvey favoritism has officially ended.
Throughout his career, Matt Harvey has both expected and received treatment better than his teammates simply because of his ability on the field. Well, that elite ability as a starter is long gone and will never return which makes me think of this scene from The Dark Knight Rises:
Harvey wants to go out and pitch like he did in 2012, 2013, and 2015 but he can’t. In this situation Callaway and Eiland are Alfred. They are trying to show him he can’t overpower hitters like he used to, he has to be more like a Paul Sewald or Bartolo Colon and make the right pitches to succeed.
Harvey might actually be a more effective reliever at this point in his career than he would be a starter. Matt Harvey needs to reinvent himself, to do this he has two options. One is to work on his secondary pitches and become an average to above average major league starter. The second option is to realize as a reliever he only needs his fastball and slider, plus he will be able to turn his 93-94 mph fastball back into 95-96 because he can use all of his energy in short spurts rather than spread it out throughout a game.
In my opinion, Matt Harvey should realize how successful he can be out of the bullpen. Both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have reinvented themselves as long relievers and they have been great, Harvey can jump on that train as well. Going into free agency Harvey has to pitch well this season to get any attention from teams around the league and he has a better shot at getting paid as a reliever than as a starter.
No matter what his decision is there will be two outcomes for Harvey and his major league career. One, failure:
Now, I know we aren’t supposed to refer to Matt Harvey as the Dark Knight anymore, but I can’t help but realize how much these scenes actually coincide with Matt Harvey’s baseball career. The scene in which Bane beats Batman it is because Batman wants to fight him like he fought people in his prime, use his strengths to win. In their second meeting, he realizes he needs to exploit Banes weakness, which is his mask.
Every at-bat in the major leagues is a fight and Matt Harvey needs to realize his strengths will not overpower the strengths of his opponents. He needs to find each batter’s mask in order to succeed.
The Magic Number Update:
As I said last week, throughout the season I will keep you updated on how close the Mets are to winning 87 games. Their poor 2-4 record this week did not help them out too much, but they are still 14-6. The Mets need to win 73 more games and can lose 69 more, that is only a .514 winning percentage the rest of the season. That is a bit harder than the .506 I outlined last week but not by much.
This upcoming week the Mets are facing the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres and they are going to try to get back on the hot streak they started the season with.