Why does Matt Harvey continue to catch a body each time he takes the bump?
So I've been hearing a TON of different theories as to why Matt's been struggling early on this season. And before I start, let me just say that the Mets fans of today are way too quick to jump on their players for their slow starts. I mean, four games into the season we were ready to waive Céspedes until he finished out April by going yabooo 7 times and adding 23 rib-eyes too. And I KNOW Matt's record is currently 3-6. And I KNOW it's New York so expectations are higher than Laremy Tunsil on a Friday night, and player performances are under a constant microscope. But New York, take a deep breath with me and relax. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
With that being said, some people believe that Harvey (along with the rest of the Mets rotation) is tired from having to pitch into October last year. I don't buy this one bit. Noah Syndergaard pitched through the World Series and is still hosing 100mph ched past every batter with balls big enough to step up into the gauntlet against him. Matt's a competitor, a professional athlete, and in his prime at age 27. He's not "tired". Others believe it's a new injury, or even an aggravation of his bladder injury in spring training when he was experiencing blood clots. I'm going to pass on this theory as well. Harvey has stated in multiple interviews that his physical state is fine. He's never wincing or giving even the slightest tip that he is in pain during his starts. He actually looks strong on the mound to me, and his average fast ball is still hitting 94mph instead of around 95mph which is where he was last year.
So what's killing Matt? Two things. The first, location, location, location. It's not so much the location of his fastball but his off-speed pitches like his slider and curve. Last night's "rock bottom" start for Matt ended with him being pulled after 2.2 innings and allowing 9 runs (6 earned) on 8 hits. He has been missing a lot of his spots early on this year and hitters are taking advantage. The first two runs came off a Daniel Murphy home run in which Harvey hung a curveball right over the middle of the plate. Can't miss your spot to the game's hottest hitter right now. As far as the rest of the inning went; Cabrera botched an inning-ending double play ball from the STRUGGLING Ryan Zimmerman; Conforto got caught running in on a frozen rope, made a good recovery and then forgot to close his mitt on the ball; and Céspedes took another horrible angle trying to cut off a gapper. Last night's game was a perfect storm of wild accuracy on Matt's part and embarrassing defense on the Met's part.
The second thing killing Matt is, Matt. He's definitely in his own head a little. It could be the fact that he has a reporter shoving a mic in his face 24/7 asking what the hell is wrong with him. Or maybe the weight on his shoulders as the Dark Knight to have a spectacular year and get his massive contract. At any rate, it's getting to him which naturally for a competitor like him is something you want to see. It shows that he obviously cares (which was semi up in the air for a little when he considered not pitching in playoffs) and wants to be back to his 13-8 self from a year ago. But I do believe we'll ditch this sub-par Matt within the next start or two and find our way back to the savâge that watches the city at night.
P.S. I don't like the Strasburg analogy I'm hearing either about early season difficulties. Two completely different pitchers struggling with different issues.