Matt Harvey appears more capable of getting three strikes for his behavior off the field than while pitching on it. The once-promising righty who embraced The Dark Knight moniker hasn’t grown into a superstar. He hasn’t filled Derek Jeter’s departed position as Baseball King of New York.
There was a time when New Yorkers couldn’t recognize Harvey.
Now he’s infamous for the wrong reasons. His exploits are chronicled on the front of the tabloids instead of the back. New Yorkers know who he is. He’s the bad teammate who can’t seem to show up to the ballpark.
Harvey, who skipped Saturday’s game against the Miami Marlins after reportedly partying in the Meatpacking District and playing an early-morning round of golf, just publicly apologized and vowed not to let it happen again.
The organization must now decide on their next course of action. They could cut bait and unload Harvey. They could demote him to Triple-A to send a message. Or they could accept his apology, hope it’s the last time, and pray the ugliness inspires a more mature approach.
The first two options aren’t great. Harvey is no longer a hot commodity. He’s 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA in six starts this year. Last year he went 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA, a stark departure from his first three seasons of 2.73-or-under ball.
More importantly, the Mets need him. Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Seth Lugo are all on the disabled list. Zack Wheeler will eventually bump up against his innings limit. Harvey may not the the pitcher he once was, but the Mets need whatever he can give them.
On the bright side, he’s looked less lost this year than last. There’s a chance he retains the zip on his fastball.
Then there’s option two. The Mets’ Triple-A affiliate is in Las Vegas. The folly in sending a guy struggling to juggle his job and nightlife to Sin City. One could even see that as a reward. Total nonstarter. Plus, as mentioned above, the Mets desperately need competent starting pitching right now. Harvey, warts and all, is the team’s best available arm.
The best, and really only sensible course of action for the Mets is to accept the apology and move on. Harvey knows he’s on thin ice. He knows he must shape up or ship out. And, judging from this report from his apology, his teammates have his back.
Whatever Harvey said, it resonated. That was step one. Step two will be showing up and showing the stuff he once had.
The tension between Harvey and the Mets isn’t ideal. It’s also not irreconcilable. They need each other and working things out will be mutually beneficial.