The phrase “innings limit” is perhaps the most dangerous term to use in a professional organization.
Innings limits, while founded in some sort of sanity, are the exact opposite — insane. We can argue the value of having pitch limits over innings limits forever, but it won’t get us anywhere. The point I’m trying to make here is that limits (of any kind) can be a cancer to the ultimate goal of winning at all costs.
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That’s right, all costs.
Winning a World Series — heck, even appearing in one — is not an opportunity to be taken for granted. Plenty of teams have won the World Series and then come nowhere close the following campaign. Few organizations have shown the propensity to return year after year to October baseball.
That’s why Matt Harvey‘s innings limit debate always hit supporters of this notion right where it hurts. Harvey is a gamer, and that has never been debated. But the idea that he might put himself before the team, a team on the brink of something truly magnificent, and shut himself down was inexplicable in the minds of most traditional fans.
Sure, most of this argument was driven by baseball villain Scott Boras, who just wants his client to stay perfectly healthy so they can both cash in when Harvey inevitably hits the free-agent market in a few years’ time.
Well, maybe something hit Harvey over the weekend. Maybe he woke up and realized the kind of opportunity the Mets have over the course of the next month. Maybe he realized that it is, in fact, just an “opportunity.” Nothing is guaranteed.
"‘I need to throw 100 pitches in my next two outings,’ Collins quoted Harvey as saying. ‘We’re going to win this, and I need to be ready for the playoffs, and I’m not ready. In the game against the Yankees, I finally felt comfortable in the fifth inning, and I came out. I’ve got to get ready.’‘Well, we’ve got to go through some channels before we do that, and talk to [GM] Sandy [Alderson] about it,’ Collins said he replied.‘It’s his call,’ Alderson then told Collins.The next day, Collins told Harvey: ‘You’re on.’"
It’s an age-old debate, of course. The most recent example came when the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg in 2012, the year when Washington probably had its best shot at winning the Fall Classic.
Fast forward a short while, and Drew Storen and the rest of the Nationals bullpen imploded in key situations to effectively lose Washington the series. Had Strasburg been active, even as a reliever, perhaps things would be different.
Nothing is guaranteed.
Harvey’s decision to pitch despite the “risks” that may or not be involved with throwing maybe 600 more pitches this season at maximum is refreshing, and one that Mets fans should praise.
It’s also wonderful to see the Mets organization stepping back and letting Harvey make his own decisions. He’s been criticized at times for various different things, but this is finally something he shouldn’t be questioned about.
Harvey, when motivated, is a scary, scary thought for opposing lineups. When on, he’s one of the most dominant pitchers in the majors. If he were given the rest of the regular season off, there’s absolutely no way he’d be able to paint his 98-mph fastball in the first start of the National League Division Series.
Now he can, and that’s bad news for the team in the Mets’ way.
Harvey is by no means the most important player for the Mets this season. If 2015 has proven anything about the Amazins’, it’s that contributions can come from unlikely performers. Still, this Mets team has a higher chance of capitalizing on this incredible opportunity in front of them with the Dark Knight toeing the rubber every fifth day.
Now, will Harvey make the most of this opportunity? He’s motivated, so there’s no reason to think otherwise.