New York Mets ace right-hander Matt Harvey was lost for the season several weeks ago with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. It was immediately assumed that the 24-year-old would undergo Tommy John surgery to correct the tear and be out for at least a year. Apparently, Harvey is now convinced he doesn’t need surgery.
After seeing Dr. James Andrews, Harvey reportedly plans to rehab the injury on his own and try to throw in one to two months. Andrews apparently gave him a positive diagnosis and the Mets’ ace wants to avoid surgery at all costs. Don’t get too excited though, there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the mound at all for the 2014 season.
Attempting to rehab his elbow could wind up being a disastrous move for Harvey and the Mets. If he eventually needs Tommy John surgery anyway, he’ll likely miss 12 to 18 months of action. That means he won’t be ready until 2015 at this point. But instead of getting it done now and targeting a return near the beginning of the 2015 season, delaying surgery could mean a return in 2015 goes completely out the window. That means the Mets could be without their top pitcher for nearly two full seasons.
If Harvey can rehab his elbow and actually get healthy without going under the knife, it will be a near-miracle. But in that case this will all have been worth it. If he can’t get things figured out and needs surgery anyway, this whole delay will look incredibly silly.
The 2013 season was Harvey’s first full stint in the big leagues and he made a serious impression. He posted a 9-5 record, with a 2.27 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and 191 strikeouts in 178.1 innings pitched. He also walked just 31 batters, and allowed only 135 hits.
His WAR of 9.6 is still 11th among pitchers in all of baseball, despite the fact that he hasn’t been on a mound since August 24.
The Mets badly need Harvey in their rotation, so if they think he can truly get back to full health without having surgery they should be thrilled that he’s pursuing that course. But if they think surgery is the better route to take, they need to sit him down and try to change his mind.