MIAMI — For Dan Warthen, it was only a matter of time. The Mets’ pitching coach had seen too much evidence. He was convinced that buried under the weight of uncertainty lived the real Matt Harvey.
“He’s been throwing his bullpens the same way as we saw in his last game,” Warthen said of Harvey, whose seven shutout innings on Monday halted what had been a personal tailspin. “Finally, he took it to the game.”
As Harvey takes the mound today, hoping for an encore when he starts against the Marlins, the Mets remain cautiously optimistic that the righthander has weathered the worst parts of the storm.
“Now, I’m not saying he’s going to throw seven shutout innings,” Warthen said. “But there’s no reason he shouldn’t throw the baseball the way he’s capable of because there’s no inhibitions. There’s nothing [physically] wrong.”
Harvey’s ERA had ballooned to 6.08 in his first 10 starts before Monday’s cathartic outing against the White Sox, when he allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings. For the first time this season, Harvey looked like the ace who had anchored the Mets’ vaunted rotation.
“I think he actually learned a lot about himself,” Warthen said. “I think that he let himself get way too far down before he came back up. But I think it’s been a great lesson.”
Warthen refused to share details about what caused Harvey’s career-worst slump, aside from acknowledging a “glitch” in the pitcher’s delivery. That mechanical flaw led to a crisis of confidence, one that Warthen believed to be temporary.
“The way he was between starts, the way he was working, it was just a matter of time,” he said. “It’s always a challenge, yeah. You want it to come out sooner rather than later. But it comes out when it comes out.”
In the last week, Mets manager Terry Collins said he has sensed a burden lifted from Harvey’s shoulders. Harvey also has resumed his regular routine between starts, ditching the live batting-practice sessions he threw before each of his last two outings.
Still, Collins stopped short of declaring Harvey out of the woods, especially given that the Marlins have given him trouble in the past.
“I just think it’s another step,” Collins said. “I don’t think you can say one game — because he pitched so well the other day — that it’s all solved. I think it’s going to be steppingstones, and tomorrow is a huge challenge.”