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Mets: Three things Matt Harvey needs to do in 2017

Aug 9, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) in the dugout during game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) in the dugout during game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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Since the middle of the 2013 season, Mets pitcher Matt Harvey’s career has literally been all over the place.

In 2017, he will be coming back from his second surgery. During the season, a few things need to happen for a successful campaign.

Stay healthy

Like David Wright, like Steven Matz, like the entire Mets roster, Harvey doesn’t need another trip to the DL. Over the past three seasons, Harvey has only pitched in 46 games. He missed all of 2014 and nearly half of 2016 thanks to his injuries.

Simply put, Harvey needs to work less. Nobody wants to see Harvey have starts skipped or be on an innings limit, but something does need to change. Harvey came back from his Tommy John surgery and basically went all out. That should not be the case this time.

He should work his way back up slowly and be monitored closely, if only for the first month or two of the 2017 season. The Mets probably shouldn’t do what the Dodgers did with Rich Hill, but should be very careful in the early months.

Get more strikeouts

Until 2016, Harvey was a strikeout machine, but then everything came apart at the seams. In 2012, Harvey recorded 10.61 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2013, Harvey recorded a 9.64 rate per nine innings. Even after Tommy John, he struck out batters at a rate of 8.94/9 in 2015. In 2016 that number dipped even more to 7.38.

While examining that number, it’s important to note that Harvey was pitching the majority of the season without full feeling in the fingers on his pitching hand — likely a main cause for his drop in strikeouts.

If Harvey can’t get his K/9 rate back up to at least 8.5 in 2017, his potential could really suffer.

Walk fewer batters

Similar to his need to strike out more, Harvey needs to issue fewer walks, which have been an issue as of late. In 2015, Harvey had a BB/9 rate of 1.76. In 2016 — while pitching with the numbness in his fingers — that number rose to 2.42.

Over the course of a full season, Harvey would have been on average for at least 50 walks. That’s not something that’s ideal for a pitcher of Harvey’s caliber.

While converting those walks into strikeouts would be a great thing, it’s not something that’s entirely necessary. As long as Harvey can work on his control a bit and even get the ball in play, he could be looking at better outcomes.

Next: Mets do the holidays

The need for more strikeouts and the need for fewer walks could be viewed as the same but they are not.

In order to be successful, Harvey needs to work on getting his pitches in the strike zone more often but he also needs to work on his movement and pitch selection to fool batters more often.

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