Matt Harvey: Why can’t he become the next Jason Isringhausen?

Matt Harvey - A career on the brink (Photo: Forbes)

Matt Harvey is without a job and on the verge of losing a career worth saving. Perhaps he should take the path of Jason Isringhausen to re-launch…

Matt Harvey has been the source of a love-hate relationship for this Mets fan and a host of fans who follow the team.

At the moment, I’m in the love phase because there is a career at stake worth saving. Likely, Matt Harvey is not as good as advertised when he was nicknamed The Dark Knight.

But he is also not as bad as he was last year when the Angels dumped him to the unemployment line.

Matt Harvey has not forgotten how to pitch. His right arm is not falling off, and by all accounts, he is a healthy and still young 30-year old.

Matt Harvey and Jason Isringhausen – A Connection

Harvey, in so many ways, reminds of Jason Isringhausen, who crashed and burned with the Mets as a promising young starting pitcher, only to find rejuvenation and excellence when he converted to a new career as a reliever.

Jason Isringhausen - Failed Starter - Reborn Reliever (Photo: NY Times)
Jason Isringhausen – Failed Starter – Reborn Reliever (Photo: NY Times)

Isringhausen came along before Matt Harvey, but his experience with the Mets is remarkably similar.

Touted as another of those up and coming young arms the Mets were manufacturing at the time, and joined with Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson to form “Generation K,”  Isringhausen made 52 starts over five seasons.

Over that span and despite the hype, Isringhausen was an unremarkable 21-24 with a 4.29 ERA as a starting pitcher for the Mets.

See no improvement and losing faith, on July 31, 1999, the Mets traded Isringhausen along with Greg McMichael to the Oakland Athletics for Billy Taylor.

Immediately, the A’s moved Isringhausen into their bullpen, where he spent three seasons accumulating 75 saves over 151 appearances, solely out of the pen.

A full-fledged reliever now, Isringhausen was signed as a free agent in 2001 by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he spent the next seven seasons while amassing another 217 saves to total that eventually wound up at 300 saves, which ties him with Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.

And Ne’er the Twain Shall Meet?

Here’s the salient point. When Isringhausen was the same age as Matt Harvey is now (30), he led the major league in saves with 47 over 66 appearances with the Cardinals, surrendering only 55 hits over 75 innings pitched.

Harvey, of course, would be getting a late start compared to Isringhausen on a new career as a reliever. Still, they are remarkably similar, possessing a volatile fastball tacked on to a better than average breaking ball.

Mariano Rivera - Failed Starter and Closer Supreme (Photo: NY Times)
Mariano Rivera – Failed Starter and Closer Supreme (Photo: NY Times)

It’s better than possible, though, Harvey could probably do it – if he wants to. A column I wrote back in November posed that question – Does Matt Harvey have it in him to make a comeback?

Would Harvey, for instance, be willing to sign a minor league contract with a team, aptly loaded with adequate incentives, to start all over again?

Just as Jason Isringhausen did when it was clear he was spinning his wheels as a starting pitcher?

The “Failed Starters” club wouldn’t be a bad club for Harvey to join. It includes prominent names like Mariano Rivera, John Franco, and Lee Smith – all of whom went on to wealth and fame as a reliever.

Scott Boras – Harvey’s Mentor and Challenger?

Matt Harvey’s agent is the infamous Scott Boras, which at first glance, suggests there is no way Boras will sell Harvey to a team for nothing.

Scott Boras leading Matt Harvey - to where? (Photo: NY Post)
Scott Boras leading Matt Harvey – to where? (Photo: NY Post)

But at the same time, Scott Boras has already made his money this year with contracts to players he represents totaling more than $1 billion – with a B.

Despite a reputation for greed, Boras takes care of the players he represents in ways other than their bank account.

Scott Boras has built state of the art training facilities in Florida and California that his clients can use to stay in shape and fraternize with their peers during the offseason.

Maybe, if Matt Harvey is willing to let him in, Boras is just the right man to negotiate a fair deal with a team ready to invest in transforming Harvey into another Isringhausen, or one of the Failed Starters cited above.

Matt Harvey – Why Not?

Going back to the beginning, I am on the love side of my Matt Harvey interest as a fan.

Unlike some of his peers who wore a Mets uniform, Harvey never used drugs (Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry). He never physically assaulted anyone (Jeurys Familia, Wally Backman), and he never committed fraud that warranted jail time (Lenny Dykstra).

The only crimes Matt Harvey committed were imposed on himself via immature behavior.

It can’t be about the money ($28 million for his career). It has to be about something else, beginning with pride.

Matt Harvey is finished as a starting pitcher in the major leagues. The sole course open is as a reliever. Jason Isringhausen and others seized on the opportunity to revitalize their career – why not Matt Harvey?

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.