It’s possible that Matt Harvey’s career as an elite MLB pitcher has been cut tragically short. The 24-year-old righty has a partial tear in his right elbow, which could need Tommy John surgery and would keep him out of baseball until 2015.
Having already started an All-Star Game and looking like he would be the face of the Mets for years to come, Harvey will now miss a full year of his prime (assuming he does need surgery on his UCL) and runs the possibility of never regaining his dominant form. While plenty of pitchers have this surgery and come back better than ever (Tommy John himself, John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter), many were never the same (Jose Rijo, Kerry Wood, Phil Humber).
Harvey pitched 178 innings this year, tied for seventh-most in the league. Take that number however you will — he did pitch a lot, but not more than older aces who aren’t injured. Should he have had an innings limit? We’ll never know.
From the New York Times:
“It’s the last thing I was kind of expecting when I went in this morning,” Harvey said. “I haven’t had shooting pains down my hand or in my elbow. It’s been mostly forearm tightness, something I could pitch through. It so happened that this past start it was a little more uncomfortable than normal and I felt it was in the best interest to check it out.”
[Mets GM Sandy] Alderson said Harvey had been treated for forearm issues for some time and that “there were other issues as well over the course of the season.”
It’s a devastating injury for the Mets as a team and Harvey individually, though Mets fans are used to being let down. Harvey was getting naked magazine covers, appearing on late night shows and being mentioned in the same sexy breath as Derek Jeter. Now he’s going to disappear from public consciousness for at least a year and hope that it wasn’t all a dream deferred. Bummer.