Detroit Tigers: Should they pursue Matt Harvey?
By Andy Patton
The Detroit Tigers are in desperate need of some bullpen help. The Mets just DFA’d former ace pitcher Matt Harvey. Could a transaction be in order?
The Detroit Tigers have an open spot on their 40-man roster after designating Drew VerHagen for assignment. They’ll likely have a second spot open if they decide to transfer left-hander Daniel Norris onto the 60-day DL.
With two open roster spots and a bullpen that has, shall we say, under-performed, the Tigers are surely perusing the open market for potential bullpen help.
Enter the Dark Knight. After refusing an assignment to the minor leagues, Matt Harvey has been designated for assignment by the Mets. The Tigers, and 28 other big league teams, are going to be interested in his services.
Matt Harvey has been in the news since he was taken seventh overall in the 2010 MLB Draft by the New York Mets. He ascended rapidly through the minor leagues, making his big league debut in 2012 at age 23. He posted a 2.73 ERA and a 10.6 K/9 in 59.1 innings and was on his way to super-stardom.
2013 was an incredible season for Harvey, who was an All-Star and finished fourth in Cy Young voting. He went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a 9.6 K/9. Then, disaster struck in the form of Tommy John surgery, which held Harvey out for the entire 2014 campaign.
Harvey returned to his dominant ways in 2015, making 29 starts and posting a 2.71 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. That was the last productive season of Harvey’s career, to date.
From 2016-now Harvey has only thrown 212.1 innings, as a myriad of injuries have kept him on the shelf. Even more concerning are the results in those 212.1 innings: a 5.93 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
Four starts into the 2018 season, Harvey had a 6.00 ERA. He was demoted to the bullpen where his results were even worse: a 10.50 ERA and only three strikeouts compared to five walks.
This led to the Mets front office asking Harvey to accept a demotion to Triple-A. He refused, and was subsequently designated for assignment.
Where the Detroit Tigers fit in
Every big league team is going to consider taking a flyer on Harvey. The man still has immense talent and just turned 29. The issue facing most teams, including the Tigers, is his personal life. Harvey has been known to have a bad attitude – and refusing a minor league assignment is not going to help in that regard.
Additionally, he is an avid partier and has let his personal life impact his performance on the field. He was reportedly so distraught about his ex-girlfriend, supermodel Adriana Lima, partying with Patriots receiver Julian Edelman that he failed to show up to a game. That netted him a three-day suspension.
So in short we have a pitcher boasting a 7.00 ERA and an attitude problem. Not exactly the kind of player you’d expect anyone to be interested in. However, Harvey’s potential is just tantalizing enough to consider. His fastball velocity is down a tick, but the rest of his pitches all appear to be at the same functionality as they were when he was dominating a few years ago. Plus, a move to the bullpen could allow Harvey to ditch his change-up, a pitch that he has never had much success with.
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Getting Harvey to embrace a bullpen role on a rebuilding team would be a tough sell. Perhaps Ron Gardenhire and Chris Bosio, both coaches who have dealt with challenging players, could help knock some sense into Harvey and get him on the right track. A no-pressure situation with the Detroit Tigers could help ease his nerves as well.
Adding Harvey is the kind of move that if it doesn’t work, no harm done. It’s worth taking a chance on a player with Harvey’s talent, even with the headaches.