Unusual times call for unusual remedies. At least that seems to be the guiding principle when it comes to the Mets and struggling Matt Harvey.
The righthander threw a live batting-practice session before Friday night’s series opener against the Dodgers, an unusual measure. Just as he did before his most recent start — another nightmarish outing against the Nationals on Wednesday — Harvey sought to iron out mechanical issues in front of pitching coach Dan Warthen.
According to manager Terry Collins, the Mets believe that having Harvey face batters will help resolve mechanical issues that are popping up in the middle of his starts. Collins refused to detail those problems but insisted that Harvey’s issues stem from mechanics, not fatigue or pitch-tipping. “We’ve exhausted the pitch-tipping idea, because we’ve certainly studied film,” he said. “I’ve two guys that are very, very good at picking that stuff up. That’s not the key. The key is he’s not making pitches.”
Collins said Harvey (3-7, 6.08 ERA) threw fewer pitches during yesterday’s session than he did during a similar live batting practice before his previous start. Matt Reynolds and Alejandro De Aza served as the hitters.
Harvey is scheduled to face the White Sox on Monday.
As he’s reiterated throughout Harvey’s ordeal, Collins said his bullpen sessions have been “out of sight.” But problems have developed when hitters step to the plate. “It’s when the games have started that there’s some things that are getting changed,” he said. “So we just wanted to put some hitters in there.”
Harvey’s mechanical issues have worsened as games have progressed. In his last outing, he surrendered three home runs and five runs in five innings against the Nationals. His fastball dipped from 96 mph in the early innings to 93. Harvey’s results have worsened the longer he stays in games. Opponents have posted a .666 OPS against him the first time through the order. That figure jumps to .844 the second time through and 1.326 the third time through.
Through the sessions against hitters, Collins hopes Harvey can make better use of his lower half while also maintaining a more consistent arm angle. “We’re seeing a velocity drop, and there’s a reason for that,” Collins said. “We’re seeing lack of command of his breaking ball.”