The Dark Knight Rises over Coney Island
Rehabbing Harvey Breezes Through Second Outing with Cyclones
Matt Harvey’s career has been a roller coaster ride for sure.
The Dark Knight has gone from mercurial prospect to big league stud to gossip-page fodder to oft-injured right-hander since the New York Mets selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft.
That’s why he fit in quite nicely with the Brooklyn Cyclones Wednesday night at Coney Island’s MCU Park, home of the world’s most celebrated and historic amusement ride.
“It was my first time here,” Harvey said after breezing through three scoreless frames in his second rehab start with the parent club’s Class A short-season franchise by the sea in front of 4,027 curious onlookers.
“It was cool to see the roller coaster in the background, and all the guys were great.”
So was Harvey, who needed just 36 pitches, including 26 strikes, to mow down the visiting Aberdeen IronBirds over the first three frames during Brooklyn’s eventual 6-2 loss.
The 2013 National League All-Star and 2015 Comeback Player of the Year yielded one hit, a ground single into right field in the second inning, and struck out three without issuing a walk in his much-anticipated debut at the Baby Bums’ sparkling facility along Surf Avenue.
He also picked off a runner while rebounding nicely from his first outing with the Cyclones on Saturday, when he gave up a run on one hit and a walk in one inning at Hudson Valley.
“My arm feels great right now and I was able to get three innings under my belt for the first time in a long time,” admitted Harvey, who has been shelved since June with a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder.
“The next one is trying to ramp up and go a little bit further and see where we go from there.”
Where Harvey’s career goes from here is anyone’s guess.
The Mets’ one-time savior has missed large portions of three of the last four seasons due to various arm issues, including a torn elbow ligament that required Tommy John elbow surgery and case of thoracic outlet syndrome that shelved him for the second half of last season.
He was 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA through 13 big league starts this year before incurring his latest malady, which had kept him off a mound since the middle of June before his current stint with the Cyclones.
Now, he is eager to regain the form that helped propel the Mets during their breathtaking run to the 2015 World Series, but understands fully that the process of reclaiming his former dominance, and a spot in the Mets’ rotation, will be a slow one.
“Baseball season is a grind,” he said. “The biggest thing is you work hard every day and get your stuff done. I took for granted a lot … whether it’s small things you may look past, [your] arm or really taking care of your body.”
Harvey’s back-page tabloid appearances have been much more prominent than his mound mastery of late, with the 28-year-old Connecticut native making headlines for all the wrong reasons, including a much-publicized three-game suspension earlier this year for a violation of team rules.
But getting back to throwing a baseball, the thing that made him famous in the first place, is his focus now as Harvey prepares for what he hopes will be a strong campaign in 2018, the year after which he will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
“[Saturday] was the first time I’ve ever done a rehab start, so really just getting the timing back, the rhythm back,” Harvey noted. “I felt like I was able to do that more tonight and definitely look forward to my next outing and try and keep the rhythm going from the first inning on.
“It’s definitely a process and I look at that as more of a step forward than anything. You want to have good results, but if your mechanics feel well and the ball comes out well, it’ll be just fine.”
Fine enough for Harvey to rejoin his teammates in the Majors at some point in September, if not sooner?
Only time and a few more rehab starts without any indication of the pain that forced him off the hill earlier this season will dictate that.
But if the Dark Knight rises again in Flushing, Brooklyn fans can take pride in knowing that his road back to greatness began here on Coney Island, with the world-famous Cyclone rumbling in the background.
This, That and the Other Thing: With much of the focus on Harvey Wednesday night, it was easy to overlook some impressive performances by the rest of the league-worst Cyclones in yet another loss. Relieve Nicolas Debora yielded a run on four hits with two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings after Harvey’s departure, lowering his impressive ERA to 2.38 in his 10th appearance of the summer … New York-Penn League All-Star Walter Rasquin and second baseman Edgardo Fermin each had a pair of hits for Brooklyn.