After last night’s win over the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals find themselves only five games back of the New York Mets with 29 games to go. With the Nats and Mets getting set to begin a critical series on Monday, all eyes will be focused on whether or not the Nationals could make up some significant ground. Yesterday, Matt Harvey, who has dominated the Nats in his career, was in the news thanks to his agent, Scott Boras
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As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network, Boras contacted the Mets on August 29 and told them they should shut down Harvey for the remainder of the season. The Mets’ right-handed pitcher is on a reported innings limit of 180:
“This is not a club’s decision. This is a doctor’s decision,” Boras said. “Any club that chooses to defy a surgeon’s wishes is putting the player in peril.” (h/t Jon Heyman, CBS Sports)
Currently, the 26-year-old right-hander is at 166.1 innings in his first season back since Tommy John surgery. However, he is coming off the best month of his season. In four starts during the month of August (27 innings), Harvey went 2-0 with a 0.33 ERA as he gave up only one earned run. With the innings limit close, New York has said they are okay with Harvey going a little over the 180 mark:
The news of a possible shutdown has to remind Nats fans of 2012 when young phenom Stephen Strasburg was shut down in September after throwing 159.1 innings. Strasburg was similar to Harvey in that season when you look at the fact that he was 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in five starts that year in the month of August. While the Nationals’ organization has received a lot of criticism over that decision, and rightfully so, Boras is quick to point out that Strasburg has not had any arm/elbow injuries since that shutdown:
“Strasburg’s arm is healthy, and he says his arm has never felt better. I would strongly say that any team that is doing that [following the expert advice of doctors] is doing the right thing. You want to side on the side of medical well-being. You are hurting the organization’s future and the player’s future if you don’t,” said Boras (h/t Joel Sherman, NY Post)
However, give Sandy Alderson and the Mets some credit because they have gone to a six-man rotation for a good part of this season and they will do that when Steven Matz returns to their rotation Sunday. Plus, Harvey was skipped a couple of weeks ago when Logan Verrett got the start out in Colorado. It doesn’t sound like, as of right now, that Harvey will be shut down immediately. Today, he told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network that Harvey was not given an innings limit by Dr. James Andrews:
The Mets, who haven’t made the postseason since 2006, have a difficult decision to make. Do they throw caution to the wind and let their young pitcher (Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard) keep pitching on normal turn or do they start to limit the innings thrown by these guys during a postseason push?
The Nationals received national criticism for their shutdown of Strasburg, but the Mets would receive just as much, if not more attention, if they shut down the guy fans call “The Dark Knight”. As the Nats look to stay alive in the NL East race, this is something that is definitely worth monitoring over the final month of the season because Harvey will start against the Nats on Tuesday and he has shown throughout his young career that when he’s on the mound, the Mets have a good chance to win.