People in New York are freaking out about Matt Harvey.
After the Mets’ former ace turned in another stinker of a performance against the Nationals on Tuesday (eight hits, five runs, two walks and one strikeout over five innings), concern about Harvey reached a fever pitch. Oh, and the tabloids skewered him for his decision not to talk with the media after the game.
Haven't been following this story? Let's break down how we got here.
How bad has Harvey been this season?
Pretty, pretty bad. Traditional stats make that pretty clear—his 6.08 ERA, 1.688 WHIP and 2.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio are all the worst of his career—but the advanced numbers paint a clearer picture.
He’s got a career-worst FIP of 4.38 and batters are only whiffing on 20.1% of swings, lower than his career average of 24.2%. According to Fangraphs, 27.4% of his batted balls are line drives and 30.8% are hard-hit, also the worst of his career. Interestingly, he’s also inducing the highest rate of soft contact of his career (24.2%).
Why is he so bad?
Harvey thinks it’s his mechanics.
“Right now, I’m not feeling good with my mechanics. I’m not feeling good throwing the ball,” Harvey said after his start on May 3. “It’s frustrating.”
“It’s uncomfortable when I know my mechanics are off and I'm not throwing from the right arm slot to try to pitch in front of that many people in a game situation,” Harvey told ESPN on Monday.
Harvey’s mechanical problems are making it easier for hitters to see what he’s throwing, an anonymous scout told the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan.
“There’s no deception in his delivery,” the scout said. “He is throwing across his body and the hitters are getting a good look at everything.”
SI's Jay Jaffe summed up the gravity of Harvey's struggles last week.
“Whatever the cause of his struggles, it's clear that the search for answers is only just beginning,” Jaffe wrote.
What could be the underlying problem?
“He’s got a confidence problem,” another scout told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Others think Harvey is out of shape, with one member of the organization asking Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post, “Does he look like an elite professional athlete to you?”
But of course there’s still rumbling about a potential injury.
Are there injury concerns?
Harvey’s innings limit was the big controversy last fall. After recovering from Tommy John surgery, Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, argued that he should be shut down after reaching 180 innings. He ended up throwing 189 1/3 innings in the regular season and another 14 in the playoffs. Given that Boras warned exceeding the innings limit could lead to future injury, people questioned whether Harvey was hurt.
But Harvey says he’s not hurt, and manager Terry Collins says his pitcher is not injured.
What’s next for Harvey?
Well, he’s not getting removed from the rotation. Collins told reporters on Wednesday that Harvey will keep his place. The team had reportedly considered sending him to the minors, having him skip a start or even putting him on the disabled list. Instead, he’ll pitch against the White Sox at home on Monday. We’ll have to wait and see if things go differently.