Matt Harvey, who had Tommy John surgery last October, was hoping to be able to pitch during the 2014 season and he was quite happy to tell everyone about it. He wanted to rush his recovery from the surgery and pitch even an inning.
The New York Mets compromised, much to Harvey’s dismay, saying that they might allow him to go and pitch in the Arizona Fall League. The Arizona Fall League begins in October. That seemed to quiet Harvey down, at least publicly, but he likely remained unhappy at the Mets decision to keep his rehabilitation process slow.
Now the Mets have taken away Harvey’s chance to face batters at all in 2014. According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News,
“He was expected to throw simulated innings Thursday at the Mets spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, meaning he will throw some pitches and then sit down before getting back up to throw another “inning.” The Mets are also planning to bring in a radar gun in for one of Harvey’s remaining sessions to check his velocity. That is in part to make sure he is not throwing at 100% velocity. He will not be allowed to do that until the spring. Before he is shutdown, Harvey, who has just thrown fastballs, will get to throw all of his pitches: fastball, curveball, slider and changeup before the off season.”
It is doubtful Harvey feels lucky to be able to throw all of his pitches if he isn’t allowed to face batters or pitch to his maximum velocity until late February 2105 when teams begin reporting to spring training.
However, in light of all the Tommy John surgeries over the past few seasons ,the Mets are doing the right thing in slowing down Harvey’s recovery to a snails pace.
Whether Harvey likes it or not it is the best way to safeguard the ace until he is fully healed. It will also reduce the possibility of a second Tommy John surgery in the future. Many players are already on their second surgeries before even turning 30 years old. Atlanta Braves’ reliever Jonny Venters is now facing his third Tommy John surgery and he is only 29 years of age.
Those kinds of statistics are scary. It makes the New York Yankees treatment of their ace Masahiro Tanaka questionable. Tanaka wants to pitch again and the Yankees are poised to let him. He partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament just over two months ago and opted not to have surgery.
It seems while the Mets and the their cross town rivals are going about handling a similar situation in two very different ways, the Mets’ plan seems much more prudent no matter how frustrated Harvey maybe. He is lucky that his team and organization care so much about him and his health.
Harvey is their ace. Not only did he start the 2013 All-Star game, he went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a 6.16 K/BB in 26 starts and 178 1/3 innings last season before tearing his UCL.
The Mets simply want their ace in top condition and have a lesser risk of a second surgery. Even though he won’t right now, Harvey may thank the Mets in the future for doing whatever it takes to save his very promising career.