It’s not the Dark Knight anyone will remember. The big fastball is gone. So is the overwhelming hype that used to surround Matt Harvey.
It’s not the Dark Knight anyone will remember. The big fastball is gone. So is the overwhelming hype.
But Matt Harvey will toe the Citi Field rubber Wednesday afternoon for the first time since he was designated for assignment in May 2018 and later traded to the Reds.
He will do so as a somewhat rejuvenated pitcher, nearly three years to the day he was sent away, having begun to reinvent himself with the Orioles. He’s not the same guy who lit up radar guns or evoked premature Tom Seaver comparisons. He has become a valued member of Baltimore’s pitching staff, now a veteran described as a helpful mentor to young players remaking himself without the superior stuff.
“I think he’s appreciative of the opportunity and he’s running with it,” manager Brandon Hyde said on Tuesday before the start of a two-game series with the Mets. “I’ve talked to him, he loves being here, and he’s having a lot of fun.”
Harvey, who wasn’t made available to the media on Tuesday, has enjoyed his biggest success with the Orioles since leaving the Mets. In seven starts with Baltimore, he has a 3.60 ERA spanning 25 ¹/₃ innings, allowing three home runs and striking out 21. He has as many wins (three) as his last two seasons combined, and has gone at least five innings in four of his outings.
“It’s great for Matt. He battled some really tough times,” former Mets manager Terry Collins told The Post. “He was on top of the mountain, maybe the best in the game, [and] injuries curtailed his career, and I’m just glad he’s been able to fight back.
“Hopefully, he looked at [former teammate] Bartolo [Colon] and said, ‘Hey, look, I don’t have to throw 94 to be successful, I just have to command my stuff much better.’ … I think it’s really cool that he’s going back and he’s resurrected his career a little bit. It’s a good feeling for me.”
The reception for the 32-year-old Harvey is likely to be positive. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series the year after he underwent Tommy John surgery, and was a homegrown prospect who for a short time was one of the best pitchers in the entire sport before injuries hit.
Harvey took Queens by storm when he was called up in 2012, striking out 11 in his debut and starting the 2013 All-Star Game. He was in the midst of a transcendent year, notching a 2.27 ERA with 191 strikeouts in 178 ¹/₃ innings when he was diagnosed with a partial tear of the UCL ligament in his right elbow. In 2015, he flew past his innings limit after concerns the team may limit his usage, and went 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in the postseason.
“At the All-Star Game, I remember talking to Carlos Beltran, who was with the Cardinals at the time, and Carlos said he had the best stuff he’s ever faced,” Collins said. “That’s a big statement.”
Perhaps Harvey’s most memorable — and frustrating — moment came in the final game of the 2015 World Series, when he carried a shutout into the ninth inning, and convinced Collins to let him stay in. After the first two hitters reached base, Harvey came out and the Royals rallied to pull even.
He was never the same. He underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery after going 4-10 with a 4.50 ERA in 17 starts in 2016, numbers that only worsened the next two years before the parties went their separate ways. The numbers didn’t necessarily improve as his uniform changed. He was released by the Angels in July 2018 and appeared in just seven games with the Royals last year prior to signing his most recent minor league contract with the Orioles in February.
It comes full circle on Wednesday. Harvey will be back in Citi Field facing the team he got his start with — the team he reached the high point of his career with. He was here in 2018 with the Reds, but didn’t pitch.
“I’ll be excited to see it,” Collins said. “I know one thing: Matt will be pretty nervous. He was certainly a very, very popular player there for a long time.
“There’s I’m sure hundreds of Mets fans out there who are still Matt Harvey fans and I think it’s going to be very fun to watch.”
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Zach Braziller