CHICAGO, August 27, 2013 — It was announced yesterday that Matt Harvey has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. This is awful news for the Mets and their fans. It will not knock them out of the playoff chase as that was done seemingly before the season started, but it will deprive Mets fans, and really baseball fans in general, of Harvey days the rest of the year. Matt Harvey has broken out in a big way, putting up great numbers this year and, were it not for a man named Kershaw on the other coast, he may have even won the Cy Young this year.
Matt Harvey debuted for the Mets during the second half of last year throwing 59.1 innings, while posting a 2.73 ERA, striking out 28.6% of the batters faced and walking 10.6% of the batters faced. He improved his control this year walking just 4.5% of the batters faced and maintaining his high strikeout rate of 27.7%. Matt Harvey’s better control helped drop his ERA to 2.27 and boost his ERA+ to 159.
Harvey has not elected for surgery just yet. He will opt for rest to see if there is improvement before making a decision on surgery, which would be the dreaded Tommy John surgery. If Harvey does in fact have surgery, it will likely be 2015 before baseball fans get to see him pitch again.
This is a blow to the Mets and their rebuilding efforts. Zack Wheeler has been pitching well since being called up from the minors, giving the Mets a great one two punch at the top of the rotation with guys like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero both likely joining them next year. The Mets will now likely shift their attention to 2015.
Upon the news breaking, the media looked for someone or something to blame. The Mets, to their credit, have done a great job in their handling of Harvey. The team was already looking at shutting him down towards the end of the season and had not allowed any crazy pitch counts. His highest pitch count this year was 121.
Looking further back, Harvey did once throw 157 pitches in a game while at the University of North Carolina, which is almost criminal. Harvey’s velocity has also ticked up by three to four MPH over what he threw in the minor leagues, according to scouting reports. Velocity spikes, while helpful to the pitcher, are considered by many to be warning signs as the pitcher’s arm is not used to the increased speed of the action and can sometimes break down.
While looking at all of the factors, it appears that the Mets did what they could to prevent this, but the fact remains that young pitchers, those 25 and under, remain most susceptible to these types of injuries. Hopefully, Harvey will be one of the rare cases of a pitcher who does not need surgery, but if he does here is wishing him a speedy recovery, as he is fun to watch.
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