Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey Going About His Contract Year in the Worst Way Possible
The 2018 season was supposed to be a big one for New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey. The Dark Knight was entering the season healthy for the first time in a while. He was supposed to be ready to go; ready to reassert himself as one of the better pitchers in baseball—but not just because he was healthy.
No, it was more because it’s a contract year for him.
At the end of this season, he is going to become a free agent. That means he is finally going to make some serious money– if he pitches well enough. The guy with a sub-3.0 ERA in 2012, 2013, and 2015 would be handsomely paid by a team looking to improve its rotation. But after injury-filled seasons in 2016 and 2017, he needs to prove he can be that guy again.
He needs to prove he is worth the contract he is going to want.
After his first start, it looked like he just might do it. The Mets didn’t push him too hard (just five innings). He threw 86 pitches, allowed one hit, gave up one walk, and stuck out five. All in all, it was a pretty good outing.
His catcher, Travis d’Arnuad, thought it was (via ESPN):
“He’s got that look in his eye back, when he was dominant. Even in the bullpen, you can just see it. He’s back to what he was before.”
Whatever the look was, it didn’t last. Over the course of his next three starts, he gave up 25 hits, 14 earned runs, and four home runs in just 16 innings of work. His ERA ballooned up to 6.00 as his record sank to 0-2.
It’s safe to say that he did not look like he had his best stuff. So, the Mets did what they felt they needed to do. They demoted him to the bullpen.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m obviously a 10 of being pissed off,” Harvey said after the news broke (via NYTimes). “But my performance hasn’t been there. I just have to do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation, and that’s right now go to the bullpen and work on some things.”
It’s good that he acknowledges his shortcomings. With how he’s pitched, he doesn’t deserve to be in the starting rotation—especially since the Mets appear to be pretty good this year. At the end of April, they were 17-9 and in first place in the NL East.
If you want to make sure you get paid well following a contract year, it’s a good idea to be one of the stars of a World Series contender.
The demotion is not good, but if he can do a good job in his new role, earn a spot back in the rotation, and then be the guy fans want him to be, he can still get paid. But so far, he’s not doing that. Instead, he’s partying in Los Angeles one night and giving up a home run in a relief appearance the next night in San Diego.
He’s allowed to have a life when he’s not working. But clearly, he didn’t think about the optics when he attended that party. Here he is, a guy in a contract year that was recently demoted due to his performance. By going to a party and then pitching poorly, he opens himself up to a ton of criticism.
Why isn’t he focused on his game? Why isn’t he trying to get better? Where is his commitment? His dedication? Doesn’t he care about baseball? The team? Winning?
You know, because professional athletes are not allowed to have a life outside of their sport when it is in-season.
The team isn’t worried about his party appearance, but it still looks bad for him. Was it harmless? Probably. But unless he regains his job and channels Cy Young for the rest of the season, he is going to hear about it again.
No one wants an underperforming pitcher that finds partying more important than pitching.