Once-time Mets legend Matt Harvey has had equally low ups and downs in baseball, and sometimes the ups and downs come together, like during the 2015 World Series. But through it all, Harvey – the surprise star of the Italy team – has persevered with his throw, and if he no longer hits triple digits, he intends to write a happier final chapter to a career that once promised untold riches before she was derailed by injury.
A humble Harvey reinvented himself with hard work and determination. With a fastball that now sits between 89 and 91 mph and a varied pitch mix, Harvey stopped Cuba and the Netherlands as he launched his Cinderella team into the WBC quarter-finals before they lost to Japan. . He threw seven one-point innings, stifling some very good shots.
“Obviously I’m not pumping in the mid to upper 90s anymore – at least not yet. Hopefully the bike comes back. But if not, I feel like I still know how to throw and get the guys out,” Harvey told The Post from Japan. “I’ve been working really hard on a different throwing style. I feel good. Hopefully things will come back. But I can still pitch. The game is still to get people out.
Velocity may not have returned. But control certainly is. “I could have thrown it in a cup of tea,” Harvey said of his pinpoint accuracy.
Harvey is still only 33, but the trend line and a tough 2022 are working against him. He first spent last year under suspension after testifying with immunity in the tragic Tyler Skaggs case that he used cocaine and once got percocets for Skaggs, before going to juvenile with Baltimore, where he threw quite well before getting tired.
Harvey surely has regrets, and while he declined to discuss his court appearance, he had one regret (actually two) about the 2015 World Series, the year before a devastating knee injury. chest outlet derail his career. Memorably, he successfully campaigned to stay in the game after manager Terry Collins told him he was finished after eight brilliant innings, with a Mets lead.
He might also have to wonder about his innings load (216 innings) in this year back after Tommy John surgery. The Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg, and while both pitchers required chest outlet surgery, Strasburg didn’t need it until a decade later, after winning a World Series MVP and signing a contract for $235 million.
Harvey did not enter into this speculation. But he had some regrets about Game 5.
“It was a raw emotion. The only thing I was thinking about was bringing a championship home and maintaining it. I got fired up; the crowd got fired up. One of those emotional things that’s hard to [harness] when you’re browsing,” Harvey said. “It was an emotional match. It was hard to say no. Now, at my age, I probably wouldn’t have caused an emotional scene. As a more mature me, I would have handled things differently.
And oh yes, he had one more regret. He was throwing an off-speed pitch to Lorenzo Cain, who cheated on Cain earlier in the game. But in the ninth, Cain took the field and walked, setting the stage for the Royals’ series-winning comeback.
“I wish I had pumped a fastball in there and challenged him a bit more,” Harvey said.
He doesn’t have 100 anymore. But he can still be effective, says Italian pitching coach Mike Borzello, a longtime Yankees and Dodgers coach and master game strategist for the historic 2016 Cubs. Harvey has a four seams, a two seams, a curve ball, a slider, a change and a cutter.
“He’s got enough of a pitch mix to attack a batter’s weaknesses,” Borzello said. “He can throw anything at any time. No reason he can’t do what Zack Greinke does. Same height mix. Same velocity, same pitch ability.
There has already been a surprise WBC success. Nicaraguan pitcher Duque Hebbert, 21, signed with the Tigers after a brilliant inning where he sniffed out Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Rafael Devers.
Harvey, hoping to be second, said: “He’s a bit younger. I definitely worked as hard as I could to be in this position. I hope someone will give me a chance.