Matt Harvey’s Elbow Injury Isn’t What Will Derail the Mets in 2014
Added by Guy Kipp on August 28, 2013.
It has become a rite of August for Mets fans to hear catastrophic injury news about one of their pitchers—whether it’s Pedro Martinez in 2006, Billy Wagner in 2008, Jonathan Niese in 2009, Johan Santana in 2010 and 2012 or Matt Harvey (and Bobby Parnell) this year.
While Harvey bravely and defiantly tweeted that he’d be ready by April 1 next year, the more realistic probability is that he’ll either be recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on that date or, less likely, he’ll be slowly rehabbing his partially torn ligament in extended spring training on that date.
Either way, count on Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee or Zack Wheeler to be on the mound for the Mets on Opening Day 2014. The way that trio is pitching now, none of them are bad options at all.
But, that’s sort of the point. Harvey (9-5, 2.27 ERA, 191 strikeouts in 178.3 innings) may have captivated not only the city, but all of major league baseball with his sophomore season this year. Even with all of his wondrous efforts, the Mets aren’t one iota better now than they were 12 months ago. Starting pitching, and the depth of it in the organization, is the strength of the franchise right now.
For all of Matt Harvey’s brilliance, the Mets were just 13-13 in his starts this year, so inept were they at scoring runs for him or holding leads after he departed games. After the All-Star Break, Gee, Wheeler (5-2, 2.98 ERA in his last 10 starts) and Niese (3-0, 1.93 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list) have all pitched as well as Harvey was pitching over the same period. Jenrry Mejia was doing well also, for that matter, before he went down with what is reportedly a much more manageable elbow injury (bone chips) that will require a much shorter rehab period than Tommy John surgery, if Harvey does, indeed, undergo that procedure.
In the Mets’ first two games after the crushing news about Harvey this week, Zack Wheeler and Jonathan Niese each went out and pitched masterful games against the Phillies.
Wheeler lost his game, 2-1, and Niese won his, 5-0—by figuring in four of the Mets’ five runs himself with a walk that led to one run and then a three-run double off his own bat later on. Otherwise, the Mets offense, now missing ALL of its top three home run hitters (Marlon Byrd and John Buck both traded to the Pirates and David Wright still rehabbing his hamstring pull), would have been very close to being shut out in Niese’s game, too.
Without a serious upgrade to the offense, the 2014 Mets are doomed to another 70-win season filled with the kind of well-pitched, hard-luck 2-1 losses that Wheeler endured on Monday night.
The Mets’ starting pitching, even without Harvey, projects to be better than okay in 2014—that is, until pitchers start dropping like flies with shoulder and/or ligament injuries next year, too. And you know it will happen.
Harvey, Niese, Gee, Parnell, Mejia, and promising reliever Jeurys Familia have all had serious arm or shoulder issues sometime in the last 12 months.
We can only hope that by this exact date next season, we aren’t having a conversation about how long Zack Wheeler’s injury rehab will take, and how the Mets “will be okay” with young prospects like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero ready to step into the rotation in 2015.
But, in the Groundhog’s Day universe that is Citi Field, it seems all too likely.