The last time Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg faced off in Queens, fans spent much of the night chanting “Harvey’s better!” Last night, a rain of boos.
Harvey was shelled, going just two and two-thirds innings and giving up eight hits and nine runs (six earned) in the Nationals’ 9-1 win. It was his shortest career start, and it’s a new nadir in what’s been a pretty terrible season: Harvey now carries a 5.77 ERA, with opponents hitting .325 off of him.
When Harvey was removed in the third, he heard it from the Citi Field crowd.
It’s gotten so bad that Bryce Harper expressed sympathy for Harvey.
“I feel bad for him. That’s something, he comes off the mound and he gets booed. He’s one of the best in baseball. Working out with him in the offseason, just being around him a little bit when we work out and stuff, he works his tail off. You never want to see [that happen].”
Harper said he thinks Harvey isn’t quite right, healthwise, and hinted that it might be related to Harvey’s workload last season—a controversial debate about his innings limit, which Harvey ended up going past and into the postseason.
“I think that kind of goes back to he had (Tommy John) surgery (in 2013) and last year, he forced 230 innings. I feel bad for him,” Harper said about Harvey after the game, noting that the former ace’s fastball was mostly around “91-93” miles per hour, “instead of (the) 97-98” range.
So, what next? “Everybody saw the game,” Harvey said, “it’s pretty obvious what happened, and I’m not happy about it. I’m going to pick up tomorrow and start looking for answers.”
That may not be his decision. Manager Terry Collins would not commit to Harvey making his next start, saying his pitcher’s confidence is “banged up” and suggesting he might see a doctor. That could presage a DL stint, which is a slightly more polite way to get Harvey out of the rotation than just straight-up skipping his start.
Harvey insists he’s physically fine. That might almost be a more worrying situation.