Matt Harvey went six innings tonight for the first time since last May; ideally, that should be reason for optimism, or, at least, it could be, if you had space to process anything beyond the rather depressing fact that this marker can be considered a real breakthrough in the first place. But six innings does not have to mean six good innings, and the Mets’ 12-4 loss to the Braves tonight didn’t offer the latter. There were a few loosely good-ish innings, sure, but those only came after Harvey allowed six runs off seven hits in the first three frames.
He’s now given up 14 earned runs through a collective 16 innings of work in his last three outings, and after tonight, manager Mickey Callaway said that he couldn’t commit to scheduling another start for Harvey. This year’s mess, of course, is just an extension of what has now been full years of a larger and more textured mess: a struggle with thoracic outlet syndrome, disappearing velocity and command, and some confusing decision-making by the team about managing him along the way.
Former manager Terry Collins, who stepped down after last season, resisted taking Harvey out of the rotation during even the pitcher’s lowest points. (“When somebody tells me why he shouldn’t, we’ll consider it. What do we have to lose?” Collins said last September, when asked about continuing to start Harvey after one particularly rough outing.) But Callaway has shown that he’s clearly a little more flexible here—which does not seem to interest Harvey, at all. From his postgame comments:
“I’m a starting pitcher. I’ve always been a starting pitcher, and I think I showed that in the fifth and sixth innings—I can get people out still in the fifth, sixth inning when my pitch count gets up. So I’m a starting pitcher.”
(It’s true, he did get people out in the fifth and sixth innings—retiring all but one of the batters he faced—but it’s probably also worth nothing there that Atlanta was working with a 6-0 lead at that point and that none of those outs were strikeouts, except one of the opposing pitcher.)
When asked for a general reaction to Callaway’s comment, Harvey doubled down—“Like I said, I’m a starting pitcher”—and he declined to discuss the possibility of a demotion to the minors.
Really, though: When nothing else is working, why not try just speaking desires into existence?