Picture an imposing, man bunkered down in a far away lair. As he sits, waiting for February to roll around, he tosses a baseball up and down to himself, a pathetic cure for his winter boredom. The man that I am talking about was once a hero in the city of New York, but now can’t seem to find a way to keep his name out of the headlines of the front page of sports tabloids.
This man happens to be Matt Harvey. Once a reveled prospect when the Mets still had their Triple-A affiliate stationed in Buffalo, Harvey has become a spectacle to watch, in all the wrong ways. From the moment that he came up, he was thrust into the spotlight as the phenom pitcher that was to bring the Mets back to prominence.
It was a short five years ago that a bright- eyed rookie from Connecticut made his debut for the Mets against the Arizona Diamondbacks, striking out 11 in just 5 1/3 innings. From there, Harvey’s status only began to rise. He began strongly in 2013, and pitched his way into becoming the starter for the National League in the All-Star Game, held at Citi Field. Things took a turn for the worse following his meteoric rise, however.
On October 4th of that year, it was announced that Harvey would be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right elbow. After rehabbing for the 2014 season, Harvey came back in 2015 with a bang. He, alongside Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom took the NL East by storm. Late in September was when Harvey started to show his selfish side. Harvey, who appeared to have a rough, tough, team-first mentality appeared to agree with the advice of his agent Scott Boras to not go past 190 innings.
Harvey would go on to pitch in the playoffs, including a heroic start in Game Five of the World Series. The Mets would eventually drop the game, but Harvey appeared to have gained back his ace status from two years prior. In 2016 however, he appeared to be a different pitcher. His velocity went down, and that affected how he pitched. He went 4-10 during his injury shortened season, and followed suit with a 5-7 record in 2017.
Now, Harvey stands at a career 34-35 record. He is at a crossroads, but what does he need to do to get back to his old self? The Dark Knight must rise again. There is a lot on the line for the former ace. To start, if completely healthy, the Mets rotation has the potential to be one of the best in the league. The health part didn’t exactly work for them last season though, as the team finished near the very bottom of the league in staff ERA with an abysmal mark of 5.01.
When Harvey is healthy however, he needs to bring his gusto back. Much like how Kobe Bryant was at his best when he played with a “Mamba Mentality”, Harvey needs to reinsert his dominance. When he was at his best, he was ferocious. Whether it was starting down a batter, or giving a rival team some chin music, Harvey was a presence that filled the seats with fans at Citi Field. Bring that mentality back, and Harvey will be himself again. We could call it “Dark Knight Mentality” if it pans out.
If Harvey needed any more motivation to pitch better, he could look at his contract and see that he is an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season. It is no secret that there is wide spread speculation that Harvey is planning on departing the Mets. However, he might find it hard to do so if he doesn’t bring his numbers up. It will be interesting to see Harvey’s value whether he has a successful, or even unsuccessful 2018 season with the Mets.
To become successful again, Harvey needs to regain his dominant mentality. Team mate Noah Syndergaard believes it is possible, as he told Dan Martin of the New York Post that both him and Harvey will be back to form in 2018. It would be nice to go from “Why do we have to watch Harvey pitch another game?” to “Happy Harvey Day!” once again.