The New York Mets announced on Tuesday, August 26th that Matt Harvey has a torn UCL in the elbow. Harvey will miss the rest of the 2013 season. The news came as a shock to many (including Harvey) and was devastating to Met fans everywhere.
With all of the young talent rising into the league, Matt Harvey emerged as a top candidate for greatness. The Mets knew it too and went to great measures to ensure their star stayed healthy. They went by the book only for it to lead to a partially torn ligament in Harvey’s elbow; an injury that typically leads to Tommy John surgery.
Currently this season, Harvey is 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, 191 strikeouts, and a .93 WHIP. He is on pace for one of the most dynamic and electrifying rookie seasons we have ever seen. Harvey, and the rest of the young Mets, were a glimmer of hope during an otherwise disappointing 4th place season.Though it has not been announced whether he will undergo surgery, all of the signs say he will. It is not completely necessary, but no surgery could result in major problems down the road. These problems are exactly what the Mets want to avoid. Tommy John means missing all of next season.
Harvey is not the first young pitcher to have early arm issues. Fellow pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy had their share of DL stints. Both came back strong, but for short periods of time. Ball-clubs are having to be cautious and are assuming no guarantees of having fully healthy pitchers. For Beachy, it was a year of rehabbing, a month in the majors, and then back on the DL. Strasburg was able to hold his own, but there were moments when he was in obvious pain. He has pitched well for the Nationals, which should bring hope to Harvey and other young pitchers who may get injured. In 2013, pitchers are averaging 5.71 innings per outing, a full inning less than in 1972. Yet even with the shortage of innings, pitchers are getting hurt more than ever. For Harvey’s sake, I hope the trainers can minimize the damage and keep him on the field.
Recent injuries to these pitchers bring questions on if we will ever see another 300 game winner in professional baseball. The last to achieve this was Randy Johnson in 2009. To reach the 300 mark, a pitcher typically needs to average 15 wins over a 20 year span. In today’s game, only four pitchers have over 200 wins. Out of those four, none are under the age of 30. Meaning no current pitcher above the age of 30 has a remote chance of reaching this milestone. This leaves us waiting for at least the next decade. Though 24 and only 12 wins under his belt, Harvey has the intangibles to be consistent in this league and to be the future name on this exclusive list.
If Harvey cannot go next season, it would be a huge blow to the Mets organization. It is hard to imagine that a few months ago he was starting the All-Star Game and being compared to Tom Seaver. Now we are discussing the possibility of a one and a half year absence from baseball. This injury is by no means career ending, but certainly one that will hold back the future of this young ball club.
For baseball fans everywhere, this is tough to see. Just have to keep in mind, he is not done yet.
***There are 124 current major league pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, including Adam Wainwright, Joe Nathan, and Jordan Zimmerman.