Matt Harvey is a mess.
After a highly disappointing and injury plagued 2016 season, he’s now sporting a 5.56 ERA and career low strikeout rate and earlier this month was suspended three games for failing to show up to Citi Field.
At this point it’s fair to ask, what happens to Matt Harvey now?
Once upon a time, Harvey was the toast of New York, a budding star with crossover potential and Hall of Fame talent. Somehow his career has fallen apart, leaving a trail of cold takes in its wake.
In 2012, Harvey posted a 2.73 ERA in 59 1/3 innings as a rookie. In 2013, he finished third in the National League in ERA and wound up fourth in Cy Young voting, despite making only 26 starts. It was during this season that Sports Illustrated dubbed Harvey “The Dark Knight” in a glowing cover story.
The hype was pretty enormous.
@fabtal I would not trade Matt Harvey for anyone in baseball, including Trout.
— Brandon Tierney (@BrandonTierney) May 25, 2013
No New York Met has a better future than Matt Harvey: put that in the books. #Mets
— Tom Watson (@tomwatson) April 4, 2013
Alas, Harvey ran into some misfortune. Late in his breakout season, he was diagnosed with a partially torn ACL, and he opted for Tommy John surgery, missing the entire 2014 campaign.
But entering 2015, Harvey was healthy, and the hype ratcheted right back to previous levels.
Evaluator on Matt Harvey’s last outing: “That’s as good as you can be. You can’t throw better than he is throwing… Hall of Fame stuff.”
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 24, 2015
Matt Harvey is winning the Cy Young this year. He will be the best pitcher in baseball in 2015.
— KFC (@KFCBarstool) April 9, 2015
Though Harvey didn’t win the Cy Young, he did capture Comeback Player of the Year, thanks to a 2.71 ERA that cemented his place among the best pitchers in baseball. He also posted a 3.04 ERA in four postseason starts as the Mets reached the World Series. (We won’t blame him for manager Terry Collins leaving him in an inning too long in Game 5.)
Still, Mets fans seemed to have a slightly outsized opinion of the then-26-year-old pitcher. For example, they weren’t willing to trade Harvey for Mookie Betts…
#Mets fans, would you trade Matt Harvey for Mookie Betts straight up?
— Rich MacLeod (@richmacleod) November 12, 2015
And some observers had to think hard about dealing him for Kris Bryant…
Id rather trade 2 other players than 1-for-1 here RT @edr1976: @michaelgbaron would you do a trade Matt Harvey for Kris Bryant straight up?
— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) May 28, 2015
Writing for MLB.com, Jim Duquette built “the perfect trade,” between the Cubs and Mets, which was centered around Harvey and Bryant. That’s how high public opinion of Harvey was.
The always sensible Curt Schilling actually preferred him to Clayton Kershaw…
Curt Schilling would take Matt Harvey over Clayton Kershaw. I think we're done here.
— Matt Snyder (@MattSnyderCBS) March 27, 2015
And some people thought trading Harvey was altogether a preposterous proposition.
#TradeHarvey is a ridiculous overreaction.
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) September 5, 2015
My biggest problem with trading Matt Harvey is that he is definitely winning the Cy Young Award next year if he stays with the Mets
— Clemzingis (@TheClemReport) November 15, 2015
As it turned out, Game 5 of the 2015 World Series was about the end of Matt Harvey’s tenure as an elite—or even competent—MLB starting pitcher.
He struggled throughout 2016, then was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and underwent season-ending surgery. This season he has mixed poor pitching with tabloid drama.
Maybe one day Harvey will return to his 2013 form, or at least his 2015 form. But no one is trading him for Kris Bryant or Mookie Betts anytime soon.
In 2013, baseball wondered whether Matt Harvey could be the best pitcher in the game. In 2015, fans and media debated which Mets pitcher they’d most want to build a team around between Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. In 2017, we’re just wondering whether Harvey can ever again be a capable mid-rotation starter.