His suspension might be over, but Matt Harvey’s status as an elite pitcher is still on sabbatical.
The former Mets ace got racked again in Milwaukee last night, giving up six runs in five inning, while giving up three homers – including back-to-back shots in the sixth inning – tying his career high in the Mets 7-4 loss to the Brewers.
“I think there is a lot of work to be done,’’ Harvey said to reporters in Milwaukee. “I was pretty much battling behind in the count the whole game and that makes things a lot more difficult. Overall the last three-four starts have been pretty terrible.’’
Harvey is doing his best to make the loss of Jeurys Familia a moot point when he pitches. He looks like he doesn’t know his own stuff anymore. He can no longer just throw the fastball by hitters when he’s behind in the count. His secondary pitches are sketchy as well, as his power slider has eluded him and his changeup and curveball aren’t always sharp.
Simply put, Harvey needs to learn how to pitch again.
Most elite pitchers go through this in their careers. Over time their fastballs lose their bite or movement, but usually when that happens later on after their prime years have ended, and they have perfected their secondary pitches. Hall of Famers, generally figure it out, going from power to finesse over time. It happened to Tom Seaver as he got older and The Franchise obviously responded.
Harvey, though, doesn’t have this luxury. Two operations just seem to be too much for The Dark Knight and opponents are jumping all over Gotham. The back-to-back homers were off 92 mph fastballs right down the middle, something he never would have done two years ago.
“My job is to go out and keep the game tied and give us a chance to really open things up after that,” Harvey said to reporters. “I got behind in the count and left the ball in the middle of the plate. I left the ball out in the middle of the plate and that makes things difficult.”
So now, he has different stuff and frankly not a clue with what to do with it. Unfortunately, the Mets need him to pitch. They can’t skip him because there’s no one else to fill the slot. Maybe at the end of the month Steven Matz will come back and Harvey could work things out in the bullpen, but that’s still at least three starts away, if not more.
Back in 2013, if you said Harvey Day, it would have put a smile on every Met fan’s face, but now it gives you the agita of a tax audit.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen needs to come up with some sort of game plan for Harvey when his turn comes up next week in Arizona. He needs to keep the ball down, change speeds and pitch to contact. If that doesn’t work, then the Mets need to see if there’s another Tommy Milone on the waiver wire, because right now, somebody else’s castoff will be a lot better than the shell of an ace on the mound right now.
The Mets long national nightmare of a 2017 season continues.