Let Matt Harvey start the All-Star Game and watch him closely
In case you missed it, New York Mets ace Matt Harvey will miss Saturday’s start because of a blister on his throwing hand. He’s also still going to pitch in this coming Tuesday’s All-Star Game. People are asking a reasonable question: If he should miss his next start, against the team leading the wild-card race, then why shouldn’t he be rested for an exhibition game? A few answers come to mind.
Hosting the All-Star Game is a big deal. Whatever you think of the Mets’ chances to contend, this year or next, it’s been a tough few years for the franchise. Whatever you think of think of the All-Star Game and its merits, getting to host it is a potentially big boost for the team’s finances, visibility and credibility. To have your team ace start the game, in your home park and in front of your home fans, is something that both fans and executives can drool over.
They can hard-cap him. Blisters take varying lengths of time to heal, and the All-Star Game will give Harvey another four days to allow that to happen. If there’s more than the most minute lingering vestige of a blister on his throwing hand, I’m sure the Mets won’t send Matt Harvey out there — and if he shows any signs of laboring, or altered mechanics from trying to pitch around the blister, they can pull him right away. If they really want to play it safe, they can send him out there for literally one batter: get the home fans on their feet, give him the chance to enjoy the experience and give him a memory he’ll never forget. Maybe he’ll strike the first guy out and leave on a high note, and someday he’ll be able to tell his kid, grandkids, family or friends that he started the All-Star Game in his rookie year on his home field. They can protect him by way of a super-short leash, or a low limit on pitches thrown or batters faced.
They can keep him fresh. If Harvey skips this weekend’s start and the All-Star Game, then as of his next game (assuming he gets the first start out of the break) he won’t have pitched for 11 days. Rest is good, but there’s a fine line between rest and rust, even for a young pitcher. Getting him a warmup session and a single batter or inning on Tuesday could help him stay fresh and in rhythm without running up his innings count.
They were looking to limit his innings anyway. Speaking of innings, it’s no secret the Mets want to keep Matt Harvey’s innings at a reasonable level this season. The Washington Nationals were criticized for ending Stephen Strasburg‘s season last year during the home stretch; the fact they aren’t as dominant as expected this year has left them open to even more second-guessing. The Mets should avoid making a similar mistake. Skipping the last start before the All Star break will give Harvey a little breather, and leave more room for him to pitch in the (admittedly unlikely, but far from out of the question) event the Mets play meaningful games in the late summer.
Skipping this Saturday’s start is a smart move, as it will protect one of the Mets’ rising stars. Letting him throw an at-bat or an inning on Tuesday is a smart move, as it will give Matt Harvey a chance to stay fresh without too much wear and tear, and it’s good for the franchise’s morale and visibility. Starting an All-Star Game is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most pitchers, and starting an All-Star Game in your rookie year in front of your home crowd is a once in a generation occurrence. They can watch him closely, keep him on a short leash and still let him have an experience I’m sure he’s looking forward to. It’s a safe bet, and the upside is a total win for both the Mets and Matt Harvey.
Let the kid pitch.