Matt Harvey’s trademark swagger was absent Wednesday night. Instead, he was quiet, downcast — acting like a man who feared the worst for his future and his career.
“I looked up a few times and saw 86, 87 on my fastball,” he said. “The last time I threw 87 with a fastball was probably freshman year of high school. I was pretty tired. My arm was just not working at all.”
For now, the Mets are saying that their erstwhile ace has arm fatigue, but they’ll know more Thursday, after Harvey undergoes tests on his right arm, Terry Collins said. The eyeball test says Harvey hasn’t been quite the same since returning from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last year, when doctors had to remove an entire rib.
On Wednesday, he lasted only 58 pitches before Collins had seen enough. Harvey allowed back-to-back home runs to start the game before changing game plans and relying more on his offspeed pitches and fastball placement. The man who once regularly kicked it up to the mid-90s, was having trouble breaking 91, though he did manage to contain the damage until the fourth.
“He threw a pitch in the third inning that was 89 and I asked Dan (Warthen), was that a fastball? Was that a slider?” Collins said. “I said there’s got to be something, and if it’s fatigue, then we’re asking for something” by keeping him in.
Harvey’s night ended after the fourth, when Kyle Schwarber teed off on a two-run homer that landed past the Shea Bridge. He allowed four earned runs and four hits, with those three homers, and a walk, and had five strikeouts. His ERA is up to 5.25.
Harvey said he felt fine in the bullpen before the game, but acknowledged the entire season has been a challenge. He said there’s no pain, just discomfort from pitching with one less rib.
“In past games, it’s taken a while to get loose, to get warm and obviously, since the surgery, that’s been the issue,” he said. “Then tonight, it felt like it just got loose and progressively just felt really tired. I really tried to battle through it and see if it would progressively get better as the game went on as it has in the past, but today it just got worse and worse.”
And the result has taken its toll. Harvey not only has struggled on the field, but also was embarrassed after failing to report to the stadium in May. He was suspended; he held a press conference to apologize. And the entire time, he’s been trying to regain the form that once made his starts must watch for Mets fans near and far.
“It’s been very difficult — a very difficult year,” he said, looking as tired as his arm felt. “A lot of ups and downs, discomfort, trying to battle through weaknesses and strengthening areas that I’m not used to. It’s been rough.”