Matt Harvey was once the ace of the New York Mets and had a bright future ahead of him. Now a free agent who has not pitched since mid-2019, it brings up the question: will he pitch in the major leagues again?
Matt Harvey was the ace of the New York Mets and one of the top pitchers in the league for a few years. His first three years in the league he never had an ERA over 2.73, started the first All-Star Game at Citi Field, and finished fourth in Cy Young voting. His future was bright, he wanted the spotlight, and he thrived in the big games he wanted. Everything was going great for him until the injury bug hit and his attitude got in the way.
Harvey was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament towards the end of the 2013 season. He was originally going to rehab it but ultimately ended up getting Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2014 season. He returned in 2015 and threw 189.1 innings and an additional 26.2 in the postseason.
Harvey entered uncharted territory as nobody had pitched that many innings their first-year post-surgery. Unfortunately for Harvey, the results in 2016 and beyond have sided with throwing fewer innings for a player’s first year back post-Tommy John surgery.
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Harvey struggled immensely in the first half of 2016 and was eventually put on the disabled list in July for shoulder pain and numbness in his fingers. He was then diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and underwent season-ending surgery.
The Dark Knight returned in 2017 and it was not much different than the previous year. He was suspended for three games for not showing up the day after he went out partying and landed on the disabled list again in June with a stress fracture to his scapula. He did return in September and posted an ERA north of 11.00 in only 22 innings.
The 2018 season was no different than the previous years when it came along. Harvey struggled a lot for the Mets and was moved to the bullpen in hopes it would help.
After a disaster in the bullpen, the Mets decided to send him down to the minors which Harvey refused, ultimately resulting in him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Harvey’s time with the Reds was not terrible actually. In 128 innings and 24 starts, he compiled a 4.50 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, 7.8 Ks/9, and 7-7 record. Although Harvey was not his old self, he was a usable pitcher and it appeared he had something left.
Following his time with the Reds, Harvey was able to ink a 1-year $11 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Harvey lasted 12 starts before being released with a 7.09 ERA in 59.2 innings. He was able to land a minor league deal with the Oakland Athletics afterward but was never called back up.
Matt Harvey’s Future
With Harvey not having pitched in the majors since the middle of 2019 and not promising numbers then or even in the minor leagues after, is it possible he can return to a big-league mound? Other players returned post-Tommy John surgery and were themselves again, but only a handful of pitchers have been diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
The results for pitchers after undergoing TOS surgery are extremely mixed. There are guys who had the surgery and never returned to the majors including Luke Hochevar, Carter Capps, Noah Lowry, and Daniel Bard. Obviously, Harvey has pitched since undergoing TOS surgery, so he has checked that off his list.
There are plenty of pitchers who have undergone the surgery, but some of them did not last long. Guys like Phil Hughes, Shaun Marcum, Kip Wells, and Jeremy Bonderman all returned after the surgery but did not last long due to them struggling.
The players previously listed did not fare well after their surgery, but there are pitchers who did come back and put up good enough numbers Clayton Richard, Jaime Garcia, Mike Foltynewicz, Alex Cobb, Chris Young, and Kenny Rogers were all able to come back and be effective enough to continue pitching for a few years.
As of right now, I would place Harvey in the middle category since he did return but is also a free agent as of early May. Seeing the success that Harvey had early in his career you can make a case for him to come back and have some success and pitch for a few more years, but there is also the other side where he ends up like other pitchers and nowhere near the same.
I personally do not think Harvey will pitch in the majors again. He was released by the Angels when he was on an $11 million contract he was that bad, and he had an ERA over 6 in the minors with the Athletics afterward. If he changes his attitude (which has been a problem in the past) and moves to the bullpen he may have a better chance of returning to the majors, but only time will tell.
Even though I do not think he will pitch again, I hope he does as he was electric when healthy and arguably ruined his career by helping the Mets down the stretch and in the postseason in 2015.
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Do you think Matt Harvey will pitch in the major leagues again?