When Gee was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week (due to numbness in his fingers caused by a blood clot), the Mets assumed he would only miss a couple of weeks. As a result, they penciled in Miguel Batista to make a spot start next week, when the Mets would require a fifth starter.
Now, Gee is getting surgery to repair the damaged artery in his right shoulder. This procedure is designed to prevent any further blood clots from forming in this area. This surgery means he will be out 6-8 weeks, and will possibly miss the rest of the season. Because of this development, the Mets should recall Matt Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo, and allow him to prove himself at the major league level.
Coming out of Spring Training, Harvey was not ready for the big leagues. He showed flashes of brilliance, but struggled with his command in and out of the strike zone too often.
After a rough start in Buffalo, he has worked with manager Wally Backman and the Bisons’ staff to improve his command, and has come on strong over the last month or two.
His overall numbers are pretty good (7-4, 3.39 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 innings), but his stats over his last ten games have been better (4-3, 2.72 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 64 Ks in 56.1 innings). There have been occasions where he has not been able to go deep into games, mostly as a result of pitch count restrictions. That’s not to say he didn’t struggle when he only went 4 innings against Toledo, but he didn’t give up any runs, despite walking 5.
The Right Attitude
And walks are still an issue for Harvey, despite the fact he has improved in that area. Listening to those who have seen him pitch lately, he needs to locate his fastball and get his curve ball over in order to be effective. Then again, that’s like your caddy telling you the strategy off the tee is to put one in the fairway – these are obvious keys to success for just about anyone.
Harvey also seems to have the right attitude. When he was drafted in 2010, Mets officials compared him to Mike Pelfrey in his size and durability. One thing he has over Pelfrey is his self confidence. He vocally felt he belonged in the bigs in Spring Training. It doesn’t come across as arrogance, just a strong belief in one’s self. Pelfrey, from the perspective of the far-away observer that I admittedly am, didn’t seem to care if he was in the majors, minors, Arizona Fall League, or if he were bowling on a cricket pitch.
“He’ll take a lump or two if they call him up,” Backman said on Tuesday. “But his fastball command is much improved. He can help them.”
A logical assessment from the firebrand manager, and a guy who’s been in the brightest of spotlights. Harvey will take his lumps. As promising as he is, he’s not 1984 Doc Gooden – not many are.
Time to Make the Call
But he has the stuff, he has the makeup, and he’s shown the ability to improve and adjust – quickly. At this point, he’s already developed beyond Chris Schwinden and Jeremy Hefner. At best, he’ll be an electrifying addition to the Mets starting rotation down the stretch. At worst, he’ll be ineffective and go back down to Buffalo to work on some things.
I’ve seen the Mets rush Tim “The Next Tom Seaver” Leary to the big club before he was ready (though in that case, he was probably more a victim of the cold, damp Chicago weather), and I’ve seen Mike Pelfrey’s growth stunted by early appearances in 2006 (his minor league numbers were never the same after his cup of major league java). But with Harvey, I believe he has the mental makeup to overcome adversity and succeed at the next level, and the determination to work on his game if he doesn’t succeed.