WASHINGTON — Matt Harvey has arguably been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Regardless of his reputation, and his previous standing as The Dark Knight, the embattled righty awoke on Wednesday morning facing a few unflattering realities.
In nine starts, he owned a 6.08 ERA. He was no longer a reasonable bet to keep his team in the game. His spot in the rotation was far from a given.
Nevertheless, the Mets have decided once more that with their ailing star pitcher, essentially no action is the best action. Harvey will make his next scheduled turn in the rotation, starting on Monday against the White Sox.
“This guy is too big a piece to write him off, to flip him in the bullpen,” manager Terry Collins said.
Indeed, temporarily sending Harvey to the bullpen might have been an option for the Mets. Also in that category: demoting him to the minor leagues or skipping his next turn in the starting rotation.
After plenty of discussion, which included Collins, Harvey, pitching coach Dan Warthen and general manager Sandy Alderson, assistant general manager John Ricco said the group reached a conclusion.
“We’re talking about a lot of different options,” Ricco said. “I think at the end of the day, again the theme is, how do we get him back to being the Matt Harvey we know that he can be. As Terry pointed out, we’re still committed. I think the best path is to have him continue to start games for us.”
As he did after his latest brutal outing on Tuesday — when he surrendered five runs on eight hits with a career-low one strikeout in five innings against the Nationals — Harvey declined comment.
Instead, the Mets insisted that Tuesday’s performance was an improvement. Ricco touted “positive signs.”
Technically, it was, though Harvey’s previous start was the worst of his career. He allowed nine runs (six earned) and lasted lasted just 2 2⁄3 innings — a performance that triggered alarm bells.
By the end of the night, Harvey’s ERA ranks No. 101 out of 105 qualified starting pitchers. But the Mets remain convinced that the pitcher’s issues are rooted in a lack of confidence, not some kind of physical malady.
At least one rival talent evaluator agreed, noting that Harvey pitched well early in his start against the Nationals, only to have his mechanics come apart at the first sign of trouble.
“His stuff was plenty good, but with him it’s all up here,” said the scout, who pointed at his head. “His body language was terrible.”
Collins acknowledged that Harvey might have shown some fatigue, with his fastball falling from 96 mph to around 93 as his outing progressed. But the scout saw the dip as a product of overthrowing.
Of course, the reason for Harvey’s drop off has been impossible to pin down, despite theories about his workload from last season or even a bladder infection he contracted in spring training.
The manager admitted that Harvey’s sudden downturn has been perplexing. But he stayed on message, just as he’s done throughout the pitcher’s crisis of confidence.