For those of you with a short memory, Matt Harvey used to be awesome. When he pitched, it was must see TV. He was a fearless bulldog with a dazzling five-pitch repertoire and on any given night he might mow down the opposing team for a dozen strikeouts. He reminded us of a young Tom Seaver and he was our most exciting pitcher since Dwight Gooden.
Harvey’s elbow injury in late 2013 was a disappointing setback, but he bounced back well from Tommy John surgery to deliver a nice 2015 season that culminated in a memorable post season run. His near complete game in the World Series was a Joe Namath moment in New York sport lore. Then last year, Harvey inexplicably struggled until we figured out midway through the season that he’d been suffering from a relatively mysterious affliction known as thoracic outlet syndrome (T.O.S.). Following surgery that involved removing a rib to alleviate pressure on the nerves in his throwing shoulder, Harvey underwent months of rehab and rest and looked like he was back in his first few starts this season.
Later we came to find out, as he began to struggle through May and early June, that Harvey had been stubbornly pitching in pain – or at least a level of discomfort. “It’s my fault for doing that,” he told Newsday‘s Mark Carig last weekend. “I kind of pushed through it and it didn’t go well. I should have said a lot more earlier.”
The muscles in Harvey’s shoulder had atrophied and he suffered a “stress injury to the scapula bone” according to the medical reports. Harvey has now been on the disabled list again since June 16 and only this week began tossing again. He says he feels okay but who knows what to expect at this point.
Phil Hughes, another former phenom who was taken down by T.O.S., was just placed on the 60-day disabled list due to “a recurrence of thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms, namely bicep tendinitis.” Hughes was struggling with diminished velocity while pitching out of the bullpen for the Twins this season. Unlike Harvey however, he had no issues with command and control. Hughes surgery was a little different than Harvey’s though as he only had a partial rib removed. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for both righties, with little precedent to look back upon.
Between the injuries, off field drama, and free agency coming after next year, Harvey’s days as a Met are very likely numbered. He hold no trade value at the moment, so the best he, the team and his fans can hope for, is another comeback. If he can bounce back with 10 good starts this year he can end his Mets career on a high note as the Mets will likely look to trade him across town in the off-season. It may be he needs the off season to rest and the first half of 2018 to get back on track, but one way or another, #33 seems destined for pinstripes.