Matt Harvey's fastball crackled at an average of 95.4 mph. No qualifying pitcher this season threw with more velocity, one of the many ways in which the 24-year-old phenom was exceptional.
Now, only time will tell just how long it will be until the Mets see that version of Harvey once again.
As planned, Harvey underwent surgery in Florida Tuesday to repair the partially torn right elbow ligament that prematurely ended his dominant year. He will miss all of 2014 but is expected to be ready for the start of the 2015 season.
But less clear is how long he will need to regain the form that made him an All-Star Game starter in his first full big-league season. While pitchers are generally ready to pitch one year after surgery, some need two years to recapture their previous form.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had the same type of surgery in 2010. "There would be days where my stuff would be OK, and there would be days where I didn't have any stuff at all,'' he said. "No fastball. The fastball wasn't fast, the changeup wasn't changing, the slider wasn't sliding.''
After sitting out 2011 recovering from the operation, Wainwright spent much of 2012 working through what he called "terrible stuff.'' He admitted being "pretty well spent'' last year near the end of the Cards' postseason run.
But this spring, he said he "felt strong from the get-go.'' In his first season back from surgery, Wainwright, 32, went 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA. This year, he re-established himself as a workhorse, going 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA while leading the majors with 2422/3 innings.
"It was like seeing that old friend you hadn't seen in a long time,'' Wainwright said Tuesday, on the eve of his Game 1 start in the World Series. "It was like, there it is.''
With David Lennon
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