NEW YORK — The Mets hoped Matt Harvey was on the verge of figuring things out. Instead, it’s getting worse for the team’s one-time ace.
Harvey suffered through the shortest and worst start of his big league career Thursday night, allowing nine runs (six earned) before manager Terry Collins pulled him with two outs in the third inning against the Nationals at Citi Field. Washington led, 9-1, at the end of the inning.
Harvey had never allowed more than seven runs in any of his 73 prior starts. On Thursday, he allowed seven in an inning he couldn’t even finish. Only once in his career had Harvey been unable to complete the fifth inning — last May 23, when he went four innings while allowing seven runs against the Pirates.
It’s been a constant struggle for Harvey so far this season, but this was the worst. And it came on a night when Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen expected Harvey to be at his best.
“I expect Harvey to be Harvey,” Warthen said Thursday afternoon, citing adjustments the two had worked on in a between-starts bullpen session.
Harvey hasn’t yet been Harvey. He came into this season with a 2.53 career ERA. Thursday night’s start pushed his 2016 ERA to 5.77. He gave up a two-run home run to former teammate Daniel Murphy in the first inning, on a hanging 0-2 curveball. He got through the second inning fine, but retired just one of the first eight batters he faced in the third.
When Collins came out to replace Harvey, the pitcher met him at the base of the mound, then walked to the dugout hearing plenty of boos from the home crowd.
Harvey’s velocity has been down, too. His average fastball last year was 96.5 mph, according to BrooksBaseball.net. He averaged just 93.6 mph last Friday in Colorado, and was at 93-94 mph again on Thursday night.
“It’s going to come,” Collins said before Thursday’s game. “It may take a little longer.”
Collins then expressed hope that the energy of pitching at Citi Field in the finale of a big series against the Nationals might help Harvey get it back right away.
“At the end of the summer [last year], this guy was great,” Collins said. “He’ll be great again.”
Perhaps he will be. Thursday night, he wasn’t.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Harvey exits in 3rd for shortest start of career