It’s as if some higher power looked at the NL East standings, noticed the Mets’ six-game lead on the Nationals, said, “Things can’t possibly be going this perfectly for the goddamn Mets!” and then put CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman on the phone with Scott Boras and Mets GM Sandy Alderson.
Heyman’s latest article details the dispute that has arisen between Alderson and Boras over the health of Matt Harvey, who is anchoring a near-immortal Mets rotation and also happens to be one of Boras’s biggest clients. The two are at loggerheads over the number of innings Harvey has pitched. Boras believes his client, who is in the midst of his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery, needs to be shut down once he pitches 180 innings, for the sake of his future health. Alderson would obviously like to have one of his best pitchers available for what could be a deep Mets playoff run. Harvey has so far pitched 166 innings this year. You can see the problem.
The fun part is just how vehemently and publicly Boras and Alderson are going at each other. Heyman got them both to talk on the record, and neither was shy about making their true feelings known:
Alderson, however, contends the parties spoke before the season about protecting Harvey by having some innings limitations, and that they “see no reason to deviate from the original plan.” Alderson also says that the Mets had a “soft” limit all along he felt was acceptable to all. He maintains that he has been in consultation with doctors as well.
But Boras said, “Expert opinion by medical practitioners is not a soft number. There are no soft numbers. These are medical practitioners providing opinions about when a pitcher is at risk, and when a pitcher isn’t at risk.”
Meantime, Alderson , who sounded exasperated by the whole debate, suggested he was floored when he received an email from Boras late last month setting what he saw as a new limit when he said the team has proceeded cautiously in terms of pitch limits (he’s had no games over 115 pitches and only went over 110 pitches once) and everything has been going so smoothly. “For a guy to say to us on the 29th of August “180 innings and then you’re going to shut him down … don’t call me seventh months later and tell me you’re pulling the rug out from under me, not after all we’ve done to protect the player.”
Neither Boras nor Alderson are completely in the right here, and neither of them are the bad guy. Boras’s job is to protect the interests and future earning potential of his client, and so agitating over an innings limit is exactly what he should be doing. Alderson’s job is to win baseball games, and so using the best players he has available is exactly what he should be doing.
The root of the problem is that nobody really has any idea how to prevent pitchers from ruining their arms. No argument in favor or against the use of innings limits is going to be bulletproof, which means neither Boras nor Alderson is really right or wrong here, which just makes it that less likely that either is going to cede his position. The Mets could shut Harvey down today, and he could go out and tear up his ligaments in his first start of 2016. Or they could let him pitch 40 more playoff innings, and he’ll go on to have an injury-free career. Or the exact opposite could happen! Nobody knows!
Hopefully, this will eventually get solved by Harvey himself. At the end of the day, whether or not he keeps pitching this year is a decision that only he should be empowered to make, and whatever he decides to do will be the right thing for him, so long as he’s making it freely and with a full awareness of what might (or might not) happen.