Posted on July 8, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Less than 48 hours after the New York Mets placed him on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury, starting pitcher Matt Harvey has decided that he will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Harvey was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome on Thursday when he saw Dr. Robert Thompson, a St. Louis-based doctor who specializes in that condition. Dr. Thompson will perform the surgery within the next week, and as of right now Harvey expects to be healthy for the start of the 2017 season.
Harvey did have one alternative to surgery that would have involved a nerve-blocking injection. However, that would have been a temporary fix to put off with surgery with no guarantee that Harvey would feel fully healthy and be able to pitch effectively. Recovery from the surgery is roughly four months, which should allow Harvey to have a relatively normal offseason in preparation for spring training next year. Had he waited until after the season to go ahead with the surgery, it may have had an impact on Harvey’s 2017 season.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson issued a statement Friday afternoon that read: “[Manager] Terry [Collins] and I met with Matt today and although we all feel badly for him, we expressed our support in this decision and know he will work as hard as possible to get back on the field for the 2017 season.”
The surgery will officially end what has been a disappointing and frustrating season for Harvey. In 17 starts, he has posted a 4-10 record with a 4.86 ERA. Harvey got off to a slow start this season, looking nothing like the ace the Mets had down the stretch a year ago on their way to winning the National League pennant. He showed signs of turning his season around in early June with a string of three consecutive quality starts, only to regress in his recent starts, with the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome likely a contributing factor to his struggles.
Swing man Logan Verrett will start Saturday for the Washington Nationals, filling Harvey’s spot in the rotation. Verrett is the leading candidate to take over that spot in the rotation full time if he’s able to pitch effectively. The Mets also have a few options in triple-A to consider, including Sean Gilmartin, Rafael Montero, and Gabriel Ynoa, before looking outside the organization for a starting pitcher. The team is also hopeful that Zack Wheeler will return from Tommy John surgery before the end of the season, although he has suffered a couple of setbacks during his rehab.
In a way, Harvey’s season coming to an end right now could be a blessing for both him and the Mets. Whether he’s been dealing with physical ailments all season or his issues were mental or mechanical, Harvey has not been himself this season, and the way he was going he was not doing a lot to help the Mets win games and return to the postseason. By not pitching the second half of the season, Harvey has a chance to put 2016 behind him and turn his attention towards 2017, when he will once again be looked at to lead New York’s rotation and lead the Mets to great things.