Harvey Day has come and gone again, with Matt going six innings and getting another no decision. Pulling Harvey after six innings and eighty six pitches was a tough call, but one I can live with. The game was tied, and with the potential winning run on base I understood pinch hitting for Matt. This is not about yesterday’s game. My concern is how we use Harvey going forward.
As we head into late August, it has been made clear that there is a limit to how many Harvey Days we are going to get. Or, at least, Harvey innings. That’s right, the dreaded innings cap is coming. So far as fans we haven’t been given a specific number, as Sandy has to make sure the information doesn’t get into terrorist hands, but there is a number. Now I could be a cranky old jerk and mention how I saw Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Nolan Ryan pitch whenever asked for as long as needed and that they threw over 14,000 regular season innings combined. But instead I will accept the premise. I have come to live with the innings cap. Things change, and I don’t see this going back. I get it, when we get to the magic number, that is that.
What I do want to discuss is what to do in the interim. I’ve heard many views on that and I wanted to get my voice into the debate. What I want to do until Harvey reaches his limit is let him pitch already.
Now sure, I don’t want Terry Collins to do anything stupid. If we are up seven runs (it could happen!) in the sixth or seventh, Harvey should be pulled. That’s basic baseball anyway, you don’t burn your ace. But otherwise, if the games are close and Matt is pitching well, I want Harvey treated just like it’s April. And on regular rest, to boot.
It’s a safe bet that we are not making the postseason. That means there is no need to try and stretch Harvey out a few extra starts, or days, for a pennant race. It’s not happening. And for the “finish strong” crowd, if we lose extra games in August to win a few more in September, that is not a strong finish. It’s just a weird push.
Instead I want to see Matt Harvey being Matt Harvey for as long as he is allowed. On August 7, Harvey threw a shutout and complete game. They were the first of both for Matt, and he threw an acceptable 106 pitches to do so. I see going as deep as possible in games, maybe fighting through a late game jam or two, as one last step in the development of a great pitcher. I don’t believe a few extra abbreviated outings does anything more for Harvey than side sessions. What more does he have to learn other than how to extend?
One of these years, hopefully, winning is going to be a goal. A real September again, maybe a must game. When that day comes, I want Matt Harvey on the mound as long as possible. If the opportunity develops to use his remaining innings to give him experience in this regard that would be a great use of those innings. I’ll live with a few less September starts.
It’s not just about Harvey Days for me, it’s also about Harvey Moments. If special ones develop, let’s not let a number get in the way.