Analyzing the improbable: Matt Harvey as Mets closer
For Harvey, it’s been a struggle to get any length out of his starts. In seven trips to the mound since April 21, Harvey has pitched into the sixth only three times. He’s given five innings in volume, but even fewer of those in quality.
Another issue Harvey has encountered is the walks he’s given up: in that same stretch of seven starts, Harvey has walked three or more batters in six of them.
The overriding question is would Harvey turn a corner in a completely different role? As Recco argued, would presenting the prospect of getting three outs as opposed to 18 or 21 change his effectiveness at all? He believes it’s worth a shot since Harvey has been fledgling in the rotation. The Harvey we’re all seeing right now is lacking in confidence and control after coming off thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
In theory, we could see the maximum from Harvey’s fastball if this materialized. Usually, converted starters see a slight uptick when they’re moved to the pen and asked to go only one or two innings instead of six or seven. His fastball is currently averaging 94.0 MPH, a career low.
What has also lacked this season is a standout secondary pitch. In his last start against the Pirates, Harvey’s slider wasn’t deceiving anybody and he wound up going more to the curve.
If you look at the raw numbers, then it wouldn’t compute to Harvey switching to a high leverage role. His first inning ERA this season is 4.91. Opponents are hitting just .214 off Harvey in the opening frame, but he’s given up four extra base hits (nine total). Those numbers may not accurately translate in a role change. The mentality for a closer, as you all know, is a lot different than a starter.
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Another question is would Harvey accept a role like that if offered? I would tend to believe no would be the answer. In all, this has very little chance of playing out (and I might be kind in that statement). However, the Mets are seven games adrift of .500 and in need of a jolt now if they have any designs of getting back in the hunt. And that fact will bear out even more out the box ideas.