Matt Harvey’s chance to rebuild his career starts Friday with the Cincinnati Reds. His starting debut is against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A small step on a long road.
It was a night of reported partying before a game in San Diego for the New York Mets that forced their hand. Booted out of the starting rotation, Harvey’s off-field antics made the gossip-laden Page Six of the New York Post. A profanity-laced tirade to the press followed, and he refused the Mets demotion.
Instead of pitching in Triple-A Las Vegas, Harvey finds himself with the last-place Reds hoping to rebuild a promising career. Although he is a starter with Cincy, and winner of one of his endless battles with the Mets, he is a long way away from claiming the war.
Three weeks removed from his last start, Harvey has not pitched in anger in eight days. A five-run two-inning relief stint versus Atlanta at Citi Field was the last straw.
If the beleaguered Reds can get five innings out of him at Dodger Stadium with a shot to win, they will jump for joy. Six innings and 96 pitches are Harvey’s season high, a six-run drubbing against the Braves in Atlanta. Cincinnati would love 75 good pitches and build from there.
Harvey’s best start this year was his first, a five-inning scoreless no-decision at home with the Philadelphia Phillies.
His fastball no longer has the same bite. If he is to thrive with Cincy, Harvey must do a better job mixing in his slider and take more off the changeup to fool hitters.
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This is a contract year and because of his actions he has lost future millions. The Reds are going nowhere fast. Forget the Wild Card or any postseason pressure. Over the next 20 weeks, Harvey must focus on that rough transition from a thrower to a pitcher. His days of whiffing the world are over.
Harvey must decide if he wants to be a personality or a ballplayer. Cincinnati does not carry the same sharp-tongued press of New York, but he will not get the benefit of the doubt if rumors persist.
He has the golden opportunity to rewrite his own story. Go out every five days and do the best you can. Maybe the Reds can help him with arm injuries in ways the Mets could not.
Matt Harvey’s departure was best for everyone. The Mets have moved on. Time for him to do the same with the Cincinnati Reds, one batter at a time.