JUPITER — This just may be what Matt Harvey has now. The Met righthander’s velocity, which has been down all spring, topped out at 94 mph Wednesday in his third Grapefruit League start. The 27-year-old is having to learn to pitch at a slower speed after surgery to address the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Surgery.
“It’s a new surgery for me. Obviously with Tommy John (surgery), so many guys have come back and done this. I am not looking to throw 100 miles per hour again or 97 even,” Harvey said after facing the Marlins. “My job is to get people out, no matter what I am throwing. I am looking forward to it.”
Pitching coach Dan Warthen is confident that Harvey’s velocity will improve before his first regular-season start. Warthen said that after the surgery to remove a rib and improve the circulation to his arm last summer, Harvey is still not 100% ready to ramp it up.
“History says with that surgery it’s 10 months out,” Warthen said. “That’s when you start to really feel strong. Generally when you open a season you gain two miles per hour, so if he’s playing it at 94-95, it’s a completely different story.”
But right now, the story is Harvey just trying to get himself back to where he can compete. Wednesday, he allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits in 3.1 innings. He struck out three in the Mets’ 6-2 loss to the Marlins.
His fastball was “straight as a string,” and had “no life,” according to a scout. Harvey fought command of his fastball all day and his breaking balls “had no edge,” the scout added.
The lack of command was what worried Terry Collins.
“I’m not worried about velocity. I’m worried about command,” the Mets manager said. “If his command is good, he can pitch.”
Harvey knows the results and the velocity are just not there and he has to deal with that. He is still confident he can get major league hitters out with what he has.
“You can’t look past it. It is what it is,” Harvey said. “It’s going to be there or it’s not. I have to go out and pitch. After today, I feel really confident going into my next outing.”
Harvey dominated when his fastball touched 100 in his All-Star year in 2013 before he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He was tremendous when his fastball sat around 96 in 2015 in his comeback. In 2016, however, when he lost feeling in his fingers because of the circulation issues related to TOS, Harvey struggled.
After two major surgeries, however, it might not be realistic to expect Harvey to be the same pitcher he once was.
Harvey, however, isn’t looking back and chasing the past.
“I think every year you are trying to not compare yourself to something else or to someone else, even me in 2013,” Harvey said. “I mean it’s my job to go out and stay focused at the task at hand and what I have to do each outing and each inning today was a big step in the right direction mechanically.
“With the velocity it’s just a matter of time.”
Warthen said part of the reason Harvey is struggling with his fastball velocity and command is because he’s trying to muscle it up. He wants him to focus on mechanics.
“I saw a guy who is getting the feel for the baseball again,” Warthen said. “The change-up, the curveball … had a really good curveball today. Location on fastball was off, velocity is down somewhat but he can still pitch with it.”
And while Harvey is working with what he’s got, he’s still trying to be patient.
“I think it’s still early. Spring training is what it is,” Harvey said. “I think today I am not worried about the results. I am happy with the way I felt mechanically. I threw a lot of good pitches. Threw some bad ones, I think that’s exciting for my next outing. Velocity and all of that will come in time. I’ll just keep pushing forward.”
Published at Thu, 16 Mar 2017 03:57:35 +0000