How bad have things gotten for Matt Harvey? Even Bryce Harper is feeling sorry for him.
The Nationals superstar made the surprising comment about Harvey after Washington strafed the Mets righthander for nine runs (six earned) in 2 2⁄3 innings in a 9-1 victory Thursday night at Citi Field.
Harper picked up his first hit in 22 career at-bats against his offseason workout buddy as his third-inning single helped set up Washington’s seven-run inning against the struggling Dark Knight.
Afterward, Harper said, “I feel bad for him” in reference to what he said was Harvey’s diminished stuff and the boos Harvey got as he walked off the mound.
Harper, who like Harvey is a Scott Boras client, was asked what he thought the difference was with Harvey, who fell to 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA.
“The lack of [velocity] . . . 91 to 93 instead of 97-98,” Harper said. “I think that goes back to he had surgery last year and he forced 230 innings. I feel bad for him. It’s something that he comes off the mound and gets booed. He’s one of the best in baseball. Working out with him in the offseason, being around him a little bit when we work out and stuff, he works his tail off. You never want to see a guy do that. All the best to him.”
Harvey actually had surgery in 2013 and threw a total of 216 innings last year. It was an unprecedented number of innings for a pitcher in his first season back from Tommy John surgery and may be contributing to Harvey’s struggles this year — and that’s why Harper didn’t think Harvey deserved to be booed.
“For what he did in the playoffs last year, to come back and try to get through the playoffs . . . he came back,” Harper said. “He’s one of the first guys to ever come back and go from zero to 200. It’s tough. I think he’s got a great arm. He’s a lot of fun to watch and I’ve always said that. He’s one of the best in baseball and I respect the hell out of him. He’ll come back. He always will. It’s just part of the game.”
Daniel Murphy, who hit a two-run home run off Harvey in the first to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead, said he wouldn’t be overly concerned about Harvey’s ineffectiveness.
“We all know how dangerous Matt is,” Murphy said. “I think any pitcher, any hitter, will tell you it’s one start, one at-bat, one bullpen session away, and it sounds like from what I’ve read that he’s feeling better in those bullpen sessions. Personally, I’m not going to read much into it.”
Asked about Harvey getting booed, Murphy said: “I don’t know. Matt’s done a great job for New York over there. He always did a great job when I was here. I hope he doesn’t do it when I’m facing him, but he’s going to be just fine.”