The Rise and Fall of Matt Harvey

ESPN

Matt Harvey attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he had a successful collegiate career. Harvey was 22-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He ranks ninth all-time in UNC history with 262 strikeouts over 238 2/3 innings. Harvey, also, ranks 10th in team history with his 22 career wins. Harvey spent time in the Cape Cod League during the summers of 2008 and 2009, which helped him to become the pitcher he strived to be heading into the 2010 MLB Draft.

Promising Start

Matt Harvey was drafted by the New York Mets with the seventh overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft. On July 26, 2012, Harvey notched his first career win against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his major league debut. He struck out 11 batters in 5 1/3 innings, which is a club record for a starting pitchers debut. 2013 was his breakout season, being  selected to his first All-Star game and was fourth in voting for the Cy Young award. Topping the majors in FIP (2.01) and HR/9 (.04), he also sported a stellar 2.27 ERA. However, Harvey missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John Surgery. Bouncing back in 2015, he helped the Mets win a pennant. His 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts giving everyone reason to believe his career was back on track. But that was not the case.

Injuries

Over the years, Harvey has never been able to recapture the success from the beginning of his career due to injury. Besides Tommy John surgery, Harvey also suffered from thoracic outlet syndrome, which causes pain in the shoulders and neck. It also causes numbness, weakness, and coldness in the fingers. In 2017, he suffered a stress fracture in his scapula (shoulder bone), once again landing him on the DL and shortening another season.

Traded

2018 was a very tumultuous time for Harvey. He struggled over his first four starts: 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. The struggles cost him his spot in the starting rotation. Harvey, often called “The Dark Knight,” was regulated to the bullpen.

In his first appearance out of the bullpen, Harvey allowed two hits and an earned run over two innings. Obviously disappointed and frustrated, Harvey refused to talk to the media after the game. On May 4th, 2018, he was designated for assignment after refusing a demotion to the minor leagues. Four days later, Harvey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash considerations.

The Next Chapter

Matt Harvey went 7-7 with the Cincinnati Reds in 2018. He had a 4.50 ERA over 24 starts, compiling 111 strikeouts over 128 innings. On December 21, 2018, Harvey signed a one year, $11,000,000 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Matt’s 2019 only lasted 48 innings before landing on the IL with an upper back strain. The Angels released him on July 21st.

Once a headliner, Harvey signed a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics. An opt-out clause was included in the contract that allowed him to leave if he drew interest from other big-league teams. In his three starts for Triple-A Las Vegas, Harvey had a 3.60 ERA. He allowed 12 hits over 15 innings, with 18 strikeouts. However, no teams interested in “The Dark Knight” and the A’s didn’t call him up for their playoff push, thus ending his chances at returning to the big leagues.

Becoming a Bullpen Arm

Perhaps, a move to the bullpen is inevitable for a starting pitcher who has struggled the past several seasons and has issues with injuries. If he can become an effective reliever, he may find himself pitching in important innings during a pennant race next year. His next big-league contract, most likely, depends on his effectiveness as a reliever. Hanging on to the desire of being a starter may only result in a minor league deal. Teams are less likely to invest starter money into rough track records, especially given Matt Harvey’s injury history and recent pitching performances.

Other starting pitchers have made successful transitions to the bullpen. John Smoltz, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Gordon, and Kerry Wood all extended their careers by adapting to the bullpen. Smoltz even found his way back into the Braves starting rotation. Even Sean Newcombe found some success this season, coming out of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves.

No one knows what the future holds for the 30-year-old pitcher, but the days of, Matt Harvey, being an ace are behind him. 

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