With all of the anticipation of the announcement of a big offseason acquisition or at least the opening of a second Shake Shack at Citi Field, SNY broke into its regular afternoon programming Friday to show Terry Collins’ pregame news conference live.
The subject? What the Mets are going to do to fix Matt Harvey.
The answer? Just give him the damn ball.
It wasn’t always clear Friday that Harvey was going to be allowed to work out his troubles on a major-league mound. As Newsday’s Marc Carig reported, the Mets considered skipping Harvey’s next start, sending him to the minors or placing him on the disabled list.
But the Dark Knight himself lobbied for none of the above. Just as he talked Collins into letting him start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the World Series, Harvey convinced team brass to send him out against the Nationals next week.
The Mets can only hope Harvey is up to the task this time. Game 5 didn’t end so well, as you may remember.
“He’s been beaten down, and I just trusted him,” Collins said. “I said, ‘You got it. You’ve earned this, so go get ’em.’ ”
That quote was not from Friday. It’s from the aftermath of the final game of the World Series last November. Collins instantly regretted the decision when the Royals rallied. It haunted him in the offseason.
Still, the Mets really have no other choice but to keep sending Harvey out there. He’s not going to get better by not pitching.
Collins’ public faith in Harvey has not been shaken, even though the righthander is 3-6 with a 5.77 ERA after allowing nine runs (six earned) in 2[/DROPCAP] 2⁄3 innings against the Nationals on Thursday night and getting booed off the mound.
If you take out the second-year-after-Tommy John surgery speculation, all that could be going on is a slump by a pitcher who is supremely talented, if only 28-24 lifetime.
Harvey still is throwing in the mid-90s. The Mets are convinced that there’s nothing wrong with him physically. So the problem has to be in the 27-year-old’s noggin.
Even Harvey’s workout buddy Bryce Harper said he feels “bad” for his fellow Scott Boras client. It’s probably not a good sign when the best player in the National League sends bouquets instead of brickbats your way.
But with the ascendance of Noah Syndergaard, the steady excellence of Jacob deGrom and the fragile brilliance of Steven Matz, it’s not as if the Mets are pining for arms.
Matz returned Friday night against the Brewers from his latest injury, a sore elbow that had sidelined him since May 9. The Long Island lefty was his usual tough-to-hit self. He made one mistake and allowed a two-run home run to Chris Carter in the first before settling in to throw seven innings for his sixth win in the Mets’ tidy 3-2 victory.
The Mets, who had lost six of seven, went ahead for good in the sixth on Michael Conforto’s two-run home run to left off Wily Peralta, who came in with a 7.30 ERA.
For all the gnashing of teeth about Harvey’s and the Mets’ struggles, this weekend’s series against Milwaukee should serve as a reminder that the NL is filled with bottom-feeders. The Mets should be able to feast on the flotsam while they wait for Harvey to get his mojo back.
If he doesn’t? If it turns out Harvey never again is the pitcher he was?
Unlikely. But if that happens, we may all wonder one day why SNY breathlessly broke in for an update on the Mets’ No. 4 starter.