Matt Harvey, New York Mets (2018)

Matt Harvey’s Destiny: The Renaissance Man Or The Repo Man

No one in New York Mets history has had a more storied and captivating, if not unsettling, past than Matt Harvey. All these years later, Harvey has reached his walk year. This is a compelling baseball story, and all that is certain is that the upcoming season, for better or worse, will be his last hurrah in New York. 

2018 will be Matt Harvey‘s sixth and final season wearing a New York Mets uniform. There is a myriad of reasons for that, but mainly it’s because Harvey and the Mets are tied to each other in a lose-lose situation.

If Harvey has an outstanding or even better than expected rebound season this year, his agent, Steve Boras, will put him on the market at a price the Mets will not be willing to pay. Conversely, if Harvey goes 6-8 with a 4.85 ERA as Baseball Reference is predicting him for 2018,  why would the Mets be interested in inviting Harvey back for another go-around?

It goes deeper than that, though, because both the Mets and Harvey have hit a wall, and much like some marriages seem to do, divorce becomes the most suitable answer for both sides.

With Matt Harvey, the injuries are the end of his story and not the beginning. All pitchers and the Mets as a franchise know this better than anyone, battle injuries, some nagging (Steven Matz) and some career threatening. They bounce back, or they don’t, and a team moves on.

But with Matt Harvey, there was always a story behind the story even when he was rehabbing. Mets fans will recall Harvey’s insistence in 2014 to rehab in New York and not Florida where the Mets felt he would receive preferential and much-needed assistance.

By then, most of us had had enough of Matt Harvey and his off the field distractions to a team which had enough problems of their own to deal with. A litany of these distractions and behavioral issues is real, and it cannot be separated from what Harvey has accomplished on the field.

But again, even that record is disjointed and rather pedestrian when compared to the Matt Harvey who burst upon the scene in 2012 regularly throwing on the gun at 95-97 mph, while creating massive boosts in attendance on days he was scheduled to pitch.

Of note though, Matt Harvey is hitting that mark again in Spring Training, and that’s a good sign for Mets fans except for one thing, which is that 95-96 is no longer a good barometer to use when judging the oohs and ahs from fans. Noah Syndergaard, for example, unleashed a pitch at 101 mph in his first outing this spring – on the first pitch he threw. And Jacob deGrom is not far behind, nor are a long list of young bulldog starters in the big leagues today.

Matt Harvey is not 23 anymore. He will turn 29 before the season starts. He has two seasons left within the range of 25-31, which most consider a player’s “prime years.” There is no time left. It’s now or be left to the handful of players who continue to get signed to small, pension accruing deals that lead to a formidable major league career, but also fall short of what the expectations were when it first began.

If Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, his pitching coach, had a month to spend with Harvey, who knows what the results might be. But that’s not how it works, and Harvey is either going to find the answer himself or not.

No one, least of all Matt Harvey, can picture him turning into a new version of Jamie Moyer, or Bartolo Colon, both of whom learned to do only one thing in their later years – get batters out. No matter how it looked like from the stands. It’s too early to tell, but it remains clear that Harvey, after all the injuries and time lost, is going to need to develop into a pitcher as opposed to a thrower.

Matt Harvey is the most compelling baseball story on the New York Mets this season, and perhaps throughout all of baseball. What began in a wanderlust of fame and fortune has disintegrated into a last hurrah for the Joe Namath to be in New York City.

For this writer, Harvey’s sins of the past, and make no mistake he’s caused more harm than good for the Mets over the years, can be erased with just one season that eclipses his highest one season win total (13) in his career to date.

And from there, he enters an open market as a free agent where yet another compelling baseball story has yet to be written.

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