Matt Harvey's baseball career already has had enough twists and turns to please the headline writers at the New York tabloids, and it appears they will now be armed with even more material. The New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 9-4 on Wednesday with five runs in the eighth inning -- Curtis Granderson's 300th career home run was the go-ahead blast, and Lucas Duda soon followed with a three-run homer -- but the aftermath of the game was all about Harvey's poor performance and apparent tired arm.
After the game, Harvey, 28, said it was "pretty low for me physically." Manager Terry Collins would say, "Matt's arm is fatigued. ... He said there's nothing coming out." He'll see a doctor Thursday to get it checked out.
The radar readings confirm what everyone saw. Harvey averaged just 91 mph with his fastball, the lowest velocity of any game in his career. He also threw the three slowest fastballs of his career, including one in the third inning to Anthony Rizzo that was clocked at 87.2 mph. While many of the controversies Harvey has faced have been self-induced, it's still sad to see this as a fan. We're talking about a guy who was a top-three starter in the game when he was originally injured in August 2013 and returned in 2015 still throwing 96 mph smoke.
— MLB (@MLB) June 15, 2017
Collins removed him after that inning; Harvey had thrown just 58 pitches. Even if there's no structural damage to his arm, it makes sense to sit him for a spell. He's not helping the team with a 5.25 ERA and all these short outings. While he allowed no runs in his previous start against the Atlanta Braves, he also labored through 104 pitches in five innings. He has pitched six innings just once in his past nine starts. His body language once again was particularly negative, the look of a pitcher with no confidence in his stuff or his ability to locate his pitches. Peak Harvey averaged fewer than two walks per nine innings; this year, he's averaging 4.5 walks per nine.
You also have to wonder if the Mets rushed Harvey back too soon from his thoracic outlet surgery last July:
Remember, the Mets said Harvey shouldn't be full strength until mid-May. He opened the year in the rotation anyway and now had a dead arm.
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) June 15, 2017
Aside from Harvey's issue, Neil Walker also left the game with a leg injury suffered trying to beat a out a bunt. Michael Conforto didn't start for the third consecutive game because of back soreness. Yet they've now won six of eight and took two of three against the Cubs. With Jose Reyes still struggling at .187 and Asdrubal Cabrera on the disabled list, there is also loud clamoring from Mets fans to call up top prospect Amed Rosario.
At 30-34, it's not a lost season just yet. It does feel, however, that Harvey will be the straw that stirs this drink. You can't trade him, because you'd be selling low. So if he does require a DL stint, even just to rest his arm, he needs to return with an attitude adjustment as much as a pitching one.
Dodgers win sixth in a row: With apologies to the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers are looking more and more like the team to beat in the National League West. Not exactly a bold statement there, but they made a big statement by beating the Indians' Andrew Miller for the second night in a row. Wednesday's hero was Enrique Hernandez, who pinch hit for Chase Utley against Miller in the eighth and hit a 1-2 fastball out to right field to break a 2-2 tie. They tacked on three more runs off Miller, who had allowed two runs all season before giving up five these past two nights.
It was the second time in Miller's career he allowed home runs in consecutive appearances, and the first time he did it on consecutive days. After throwing 25 pitches Tuesday, he came out without his 95-plus velocity, throwing a couple of 91 mph fastballs to Hernandez. The Dodgers' utility guy is one of their unsung heroes, hitting .237 but slugging .504 as 22 of his 31 hits have gone for extra bases.
Oh, Kenley Jansen had a 1-2-3 ninth with one strikeout. That's now 45 K's and zero walks. Maybe the Nationals should have increased their offer to him?
A hairy situation: Ben Gamel of the Mariners with the play of the day:
Ben Gamel fears no wall. pic.twitter.com/9DP4vcOfg2
— MLB (@MLB) June 15, 2017
By the way, keep a close eye on Thursday's Mariners-Twins game. Seattle beat Ervin Santana 6-4 on Wednesday as Mitch Haniger hit a two-run homer and Mike Zunino hit a three-run home run. Both were later hit by a pitch. Probably a coincidence! But maybe not! Nelson Cruz also was hit by a pitch, so the Mariners have a few bruises they might not like.
Derek Fisher makes immediate impact for Astros: A former University of Virginia standout and the 37th pick in the 2014 draft, Fisher made his big league debut in left field and did this as part of a two-hit, two-walk night in a 13-2 victory over the Texas Rangers:
— MLB (@MLB) June 15, 2017
Fisher was hitting .335/.401/.608 at Fresno, nice numbers even for Triple-A. He drew 83 walks in the minors in 2016. In other words, he projects as an offensive upgrade over Norichika Aoki, which could free up Marwin Gonzalez to play less left field and more at first base or even designated hitter, where Carlos Beltran isn't providing much offense.
This should be fun: A fun idea! Good job, MLB.
News: MLB players can wear nicknames on back of jerseys, crazy-colored footwear, for "Players Weekend." Details: https://t.co/Rwuek0d4fz
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 14, 2017
Players and teams used to do this on a regular basis back in the 1970s. Paul Lukas of Uni Watch covered this a few years ago. Jimmy Wynn, "The Toy Cannon," wore CANNON, for example. Mariners outfielder Ruppert Jones went with RUPE. Ted Turner even sneaked in CHANNEL for Andy Messersmith, who wore No. 17, as a way to advertise his television station (Channel 17). He was politely informed not to do that again.
The problem, however: not enough good nicknames in today's game. Certainly nothing close to the awesomeness of "The Toy Cannon." My one recommendation: Matt Harvey should not wear DARK KNIGHT.