MLB: New York Mets at San Diego Padres

The downward spiral of Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey did his part as a Met from 2013 to 2015.  Everybody who even casually follows baseball knows that.

With reports circulating that he is extremely unhappy about his move to the bullpen, Sandy Alderson and staff really do have few options left with the former All-Star Game starter. Harvey has allowed his ego to get the best of him in many situations, but in reality, it’s not about that – it’s about his pitching.

Analyzing Harvey solely as a baseball player, he has been facing a massive regression with all of his pitches, especially his fastball. In 2015, the last year in which Harvey was effective, he posted a win-loss record of 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He also threw his fastball with an average velocity of 96.46 mph, just .5 mph slower than that of his 2013 season where he posted Cy Young-like numbers.  All of this a year removed from Tommy John surgery.

But we have entered a point where Harvey’s mechanics, movement and velocity put both him and the Mets in a terrible situation. Obviously, a move to the bullpen doesn’t suit Harvey, but is there much choice? Harvey’s fastball dropped from 95.39 mph in 2016 to 94.42 in 2017 and 93.18 this year in 2018.  Not only this, but his rotation on pitches has been lackluster: the 2,123.23 rpm on his fastball, average perceived speed and aforementioned velocity are at least two mph below league average.

His only successful pitch has been his slider, but now that his changeup and fastball have been beaten up, his breaking ball has even lost effectiveness. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, his fastball has gotten rocked for .325, .330 and .311 average, respectively, while his changeup, which has lost deceptiveness, has gotten hit at .385 clip in 2018.

But perhaps the most unfortunate result of Harvey’s surgeries is not only is ineffectiveness of his curveball, but the inability to throw one.

Heading into the season, manager Mickey Calloway announced that he would employ his pitchers to throw more curveballs, something that really helped shape the Cleveland Indians’ elite pitching staff over the last few years. The, as I tentatively say this, “Dark Knight” has now started to go away from his curveball, throwing just 13 entering the game Sunday, and barely anyone is even bothering to swing at it. The curve used to be his tertiary pitch behind his fastball and slider, but now his ineffective change is thrown more than 10% of the time.

Due to the loss of juice on his pitches, his K-rate has decreased at eye-popping rates too.

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Of course, much of this could be attributed to his medical history and bum shoulder, but just because Harvey was great in the past does not warrant consideration for the future. Forget about his attitude or how he is off the field; the almost unprecedented regression of a former Cy Young candidate has made Matt Harvey, previously one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, totally expendable.

The Dark Knight has fallen.

Photo credit: Jake Roth – USA Today Sports

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