Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Matt Harvey out: Implications, fill-ins
By Eric Karabell
For weeks and perhaps months, the biggest concern in the fantasy baseball world concerning awesome New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey has been about when the team would officially shut down his season, citing an innings limit. Hey, we went through this with Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg a season ago, so we should be used to it. Well, we have an answer now, and it's discouraging and not up for much debate on the Mets' part: Harvey's season is over immediately and Tommy John surgery could be pending due to a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Say goodbye to the No. 4 pitcher on the season Player Rater and 14th overall.
Harvey, 24, hadn't shown signs of arm troubles until after his last outing, when the Detroit Tigers somewhat had their way with him for 13 hits over 6 2/3 innings. Harvey managed to avoid a pounding, permitting only two runs, but he reported unusual forearm pain afterward. Now we know why. His final numbers for the season are excellent, with a 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 191 strikeouts in 178 1/3 innings. By the way, for all the people who have been comparing Harvey's upside with that of Strasburg -- let's agree that both are tremendous -- note that it has been nearly three years to the day when Strasburg damaged his elbow as a rookie and surgery was announced. And Strasburg has pitched extremely well since, with a career ERA of 2.96 and 1.08 WHIP.
[+]Enlarge Steve Mitchell/Getty ImagesThe 13 hits Matt Harvey allowed in his last start was the first time he had allowed double-digit hits in a game in his big league career.
If you own Harvey in a re-draft league, as painful as it might be, and whether it's a roto format or a head-to-head league, it's time to send him to the waiver wire. He can't help you any longer in 2013. In a keeper league, you shouldn't do anything yet. It remains possible Harvey can avoid Tommy John surgery; it depends on the severity of the tear, and Mets personnel announced there might not be an answer on that for months. If Harvey needs the surgery, he'd miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season. Of course, it's hardly a rarity that pitchers need this surgery, so let's not bet against Harvey regaining dominance either next season or the year after. Pitchers perform all the time with frayed ligaments, and they perform well.
Fantasy owners should also remember this painful mantra, and it's why I continually target top hitters in drafts annually: No matter how great a pitcher looks, what his mechanics are and what a team does to prevent injury, if a pitcher is going to break, he's going to break. It can't be prevented. Choose hitters early and often in drafts and hope for the best with the arms. No pitchers are safe, and I cannot possibly predict who is next, but let's just say with Harvey going down, it shouldn't surprise anyone if any pitcher develops arm trouble.