New York Mets

Will New York Mets bulldog Matt Harvey be shut down to protect his arm after Tommy John surgery? Or will ‘The Dark Knight’ rise in the Mets postseason run?

By Jeff Weisinger

To pitch or not to pitch – that is the question.

With the New York Mets entering their biggest month of September in the last 10 years – leading the NL East by six-games with the playoffs in clear sight – they now face their biggest challenge: whether or not to allow pitcher Matt Harvey to continue to pitch. The Mets obviously want him on the mound. His agent Scott Boras, however, is persistent that the Mets need to listen to the doctors and cap his season at 180 innings.

Harvey’s already logged 166 1/3 innings this season and has already skipped a start this season to save his arm. The Mets plan to skip another one of his starts this month.

While the Mets definitely want to see Harvey pitch in October, or towards the end of the month to clinch the divisional pennant for the first time since 2006, Boras has repeatedly cited the doctors wishes to shut him down after 180 innings.

“This is not a club’s decision. This is a doctor’s decision,” Boras told CBS Sports. “Any club that chooses to defy a surgeon’s wishes is putting the player in peril.”

Harvey has not pitched less than six innings in his last nine straight starts, throwing over 100 pitches in his last three straight outings. In his comeback season so far, Harvey is 12-7 with a 2.60 ERA with 158 strikeouts in 25 starts. The 12 wins recorded thus far are a career-high for Harvey and his 2.60 ERA is the third straight year he’s recorded a sub-3.00 ERA.

Seeing an ace’s season end early with the playoffs in clear sight is nothing new in the majors, especially in the National League East.

The Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg early in September in the 2012 season, his comeback season from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg was on an absolute tear in 2012, going 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA, helping guide the Nationals back to the playoffs. However, without Strasburg in the rotation for the rest of September, the Nationals somewhat stumbled into the postseason, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the NLDS.

Harvey’s situation is no different. With the Mets on pace to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, losing one of their aces may hurt their postseason run – something that hasn’t gone well with general manager Sandy Alderson.

“For a guy to say to us on the 29th of August ‘180 innings and then you’re going to shut him down …’ Alderson said. “Don’t call me seven months later and tell me you’re pulling the rug out from under me, not after all we’ve done to protect the player.”

Alderson did acknowledge that there may be a “slightly enhanced” risk of Harvey going beyond the target limit.

“Expert opinion by medical practitioners is not a soft number,” Boras added. “There are no soft numbers. These are medical practitioners providing opinions about when a pitcher is at risk, and when a pitcher isn’t at risk.”

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