Matt Harvey’s demons shouldn’t change place in Mets history

Matt Harvey grew to become universally cherished by Mets followers after arriving on the scene in 2012 with an electrical fastball and wipeout slider.

The child from Connecticut had in any respect: expertise, charisma and a smile that might illuminate Citi Discipline. Earlier than Jacob deGrom grew to become the inheritor obvious to Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, there was Harvey. And he embraced the problem.

By the point Harvey departed Queens, he was a damaged man, bodily and emotionally. We all know the latter due to his admission this week that he used cocaine whereas pitching for the Mets. That data got here in testimony he delivered throughout Eric Kay’s trial in Texas. Kay, a former Angels worker, has been charged with supplying fentanyl to pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died in 2019 with the drug in his system.

Harvey’s admission hardly got here as a shock to these across the Mets. There had been unsubstantiated rumors Harvey used cocaine, and his popularity as a hardcore partier solely grew with every new crew infraction, whether or not it was lacking a exercise earlier than the 2015 NLDS or skipping a recreation two years later after he had stayed out late the earlier evening.

As any individual who lined Harvey all through his Mets profession it was straightforward to identify a line of demarcation in persona. He began the All-Star Recreation at Citi Discipline in 2013 because the toast of New York. A month later, he acquired the analysis of a torn elbow ligament that necessitated Tommy John surgical procedure. Harvey returned carrying a burden, maybe with the belief he nonetheless may very well be a great pitcher, however that he had missed his golden probability at receiving a nine-figure contract.

Matt Harvey
Andrew Theodorakis

That’s to not say Harvey’s cocaine utilization started then. We might by no means know when it began or the total impact it had on a pitcher whose remaining superpowers disappeared fully after he lobbied for the ball within the ninth inning of Recreation 5 of the 2015 World Collection towards the Royals. The Mets have been about to lose their lead and the collection.

Quickly, Harvey’s velocity disappeared and a brand new analysis of thoracic outlet syndrome arrived. That meant extra surgical procedure. Harvey has barely survived within the main leagues since then. Final 12 months, he pitched to a 6.27 ERA in 28 begins for the Orioles.

“Particularly as a pitcher, you simply by no means know,” deGrom advised me two springs in the past. “That’s the reason I say I’m grateful every single day I can put this uniform on and do that, since you simply by no means know when your time cam be up so far as taking part in. The principle factor is attempt to keep wholesome. It’s simpler stated than finished.

“There’s some issues which might be out of your management, like no one is aware of a lot about thoracic outlet after which Harvey will get it and also you do the surgical procedure and also you simply don’t know. There’s so many issues which might be unknown.”

One of many nice disappointments in Mets historical past was by no means receiving an prolonged stretch with Harvey, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in the identical rotation. Accidents to all of them restricted that gifted group to just one flip within the rotation collectively. That got here in 2018, shortly earlier than Harvey was traded to the Reds.

Harvey has acknowledged lately that his life-style and immaturity contributed to his undoing with the Mets. The followers nonetheless confirmed their appreciation for him final season, when he pitched at Citi Discipline for the primary time for the reason that commerce.

Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey
Andrew Theodorakis

The affirmation of Harvey’s cocaine utilization whereas pitching for the Mets shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion of him. If something, really feel unhealthy for Harvey that he was damaged sufficient emotionally to make use of the drug.

Greater than a era in the past, Gooden and Darryl Strawberry sabotaged their careers with substance abuse. Each are nonetheless largely revered for serving to the Mets win the World Collection in 1986.

Harvey by no means delivered such a championship, however took the ball in 2015 when forces have been pulling him towards shutting down due to innings workload issues. He nonetheless wished the ball within the ninth inning in Recreation 5 of the World Collection, however couldn’t end the job.

He deserves to be remembered as a shining star — if even for a short second — who by a confluence of bodily illnesses, emotional misery and life-style decisions by no means discovered sustained success.

Let’s simply hope he has discovered peace in his life that doesn’t require nefarious chemical inducements.


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