10:51 am Jul. 12, 2012
With the unfortunate news that Dillon Gee needs to have surgery on Friday to address damage in his pitching shoulder from a blood clot, the Mets now know they need to address Gee's absence in more than a short-term way.
Pitchers like Miguel Batista, Chris Schwinden and Jeremy Hefner weren't great answers when the Mets turned to them earlier. To fail to find other alternatives would be a bit like giving up on the season.
Which brings us to Matt Harvey, pitching prospect extraordinaire.
The Mets will be hard press not to consider bringing him up from Triple-A. But their decision, either way, will be a momentous one.
As was the case when manager Terry Collins let Johan Santana, recovering from shoulder surgery, throw 134 pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter, the Mets would be pushing aside a guideline of their own making by bringing up Harvey so soon. (Santana, for the record, has pitched to a 4.93 E.R.A. in six starts since his epic night.)
Harvey, a 2010 first round draft pick, has 234 professional innings under his belt. He's pitched 98 innings for Triple-A Buffalo this season, with a 3.39 E.R.A. that reflects both his strengths, like getting 9.3 strikeouts per nine, and his weaknesses, like giving up 3.8 walks per nine. His control of his fastball is much better than his control of his secondary pitches. His changeup, in particular, is still under construction.
Chances are that such an arsenal would allow Harvey to compete now at the major league level. But the Mets didn't draft Harvey to merely survive in New York, but to be a front-of-rotation star. To be that, he needs more time to refine his secondary offerings, and that is best done against minor league hitters. For the Mets, he'd need to throw what works best, and that means, by necessity, less time throwing what needs improvement.
Mike Pelfrey, for one, fell into this trap when the Mets brought him up to the major leagues after 176 1/3 minor league innings, including 82 at Triple-A. (It is worth noting that Pelfrey wasn't getting the kinds of swings and misses at Triple-A that Harvey has been getting: his strikeout rate was just 6.5 per nine at Triple-A.)
But the Mets obviously didn't think Harvey was ready: If they did, he'd have been pitching for the Mets already, or called up immediately once Gee got hurt.
The're really answering two questions with their Harvey decision: One is whether they believe their 46-40 start really makes them playoff contenders; and whether they might do serious harm to Matt Harvey's development by rushing him up.
With the benefit of hindsight, Mike Pelfrey's development was an abject failure. And the jury's still out on the wisdom of keeping Johan Santana in that game.
What lesson have they learned?
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Nets' pursuit of Dwight Howard is dead for now, though the possibility of a deal lives on, zombie-like, as long as Howard hasn't been traded elsewhere.
The Nets signed N.B.A. veteran Jerry Stackhouse.
Jeremy Lin will return, and start, says coach Mike Woodson.
The Knicks continue to build their bench in inventive ways, bringing in Spanish league veteran Pablo Prigioni to back up Jeremy Lin and Jason Kidd at point guard.