We know the exact moment when Matt Harvey’s career took a turn. In the 2015 World Series, Game 5 looked like it could be a chance for the New York Mets to get back into it. Harvey was cruising into the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead.
I won’t sadden you further with details of the traumatic events after. Mets fans continue to wear the scars.
There’s a big unanswered question from this moment. What if Terry Collins did pull Harvey? Even if the World Series was lost, would he have remained healthy after 2015? It’s something we’ll never know just like another unanswered question about his career.
What if former Mets pitcher Matt Harvey accepted a bullpen role?
The relationship between the Mets and Harvey became more tattered in 2018 when the club moved him from the starting rotation to the bullpen. It was a logical thing to do. Harvey wasn’t pitching well enough to keep his rotation spot.
Instead of keeping an unhappy player on the roster, the Mets traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. Harvey continued his MLB career without much success, most recently spending the 2022 season in the minors.
All of these years later, Harvey has somehow only logged 12.1 innings out of the bullpen in 8 games. The results haven’t been good but the sample size isn’t great either. Given more of an opportunity to pitch in relief, who’s to say he wouldn’t have figured things out?
It is odd to me that so many teams have continued to use Harvey as a starter. He made 12 starts for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 and 4 more for the Kansas City Royals in 2020. They did pitch him in relief 3 teams. They’re the only organization that has summoned him from the bullpen at all.
Harvey made 28 mostly forgotten starts for the 2021 Baltimore Orioles. In 2022, he made 13 more and was actually quite effective. The difference was all of them were in the minor leagues. The 3.71 ERA is nothing spectacular for a guy we knew at one point knew was destined for Cooperstown.
Many fallen starters successfully made the transition from starter to reliever. Either due to poor performance or an injury, it was the only route they could take.
Former Mets prospect Michael Fulmer is one of the latest to do it. He dominated as the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Injuries and ineffectiveness forced him into the Detroit Tigers bullpen. His career has been saved because of this transition. I still wonder if the same could have happened for Harvey if he ever agreed to it.
There is a certain mentality needed to be a starting pitcher just like there is to intimidate from the bullpen. There was never any doubt about Harvey’s toughness. We saw plenty of it in New York.
If he wants to continue pitching, I’d like to see him take on a bullpen role. It has saved countless careers. Now 33, it might be his last option.