Published August 27, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – If you follow baseball and didn't have a pit in your stomach when you heard that New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey had a partial ligament tear in his pitching elbow, well you are not much of a fan.
Or you are from Philadelphia.
The light at the end of the tunnel was there for the Mets. Everyone in baseball was starting to see it. After one of more embarrassing stretches in team history, they were once again poised to compete in 2014.
Of course, all those high hopes rested on the continued progress of a young starting pitching staff, particularly the phenom Harvey, who was as electric as any pitcher in the league this season.
His starts had become must-see events in New York, similar to the way is was when Dwight Gooden took the mound in the mid-1980s.
Quite simply, Harvey gave the Mets hope. The hope of better times being on the horizon, more so than David Wright or Jose Reyes ever provided.
Now, Harvey will likely need Tommy John surgery and likely won't be a factor again until 2015. But even then, he'll certainly be on an innings limit similar to the one Stephen Strasburg was on last season when the Washington Nationals shut him down for the stretch run and postseason.
And by the way, Harvey will also be arbitration eligible after that season.
It's just awful news to digest if you are a baseball fan, particularly one that roots for the team in Flushing.
So where do the Mets go from here?
Everyone can talk about avoiding surgery all they want, but let's face it, Harvey is going under the knife.
You will hear an awful lot of the blame game in the coming days. Is it on the Mets for having him throw 178 1/3 innings in this his first full year? Is it on Harvey himself for throwing too many sliders?
Honestly, though, there is nobody to blame. These things happen. Sometimes you can tell that a pitcher is going to eventually be in trouble. The way Strasburg pitches, you could almost see his injury coming a few years ago.
But with Harvey, his mechanics were flawless.
Harvey stated that he has been dealing with some forearm tightness for a few weeks. Now most people in the game will tell you that kind of thing is usually a red flag that there is a problem with the elbow.
It is kind of mind boggling that the Mets didn't give him an MRI sooner. It seems irresponsible that the Mets would go down that path with any run-of-the- mill starter, let alone the face of the franchise in Harvey.
Then again this is the same organization that allowed a player to fly cross country with a concussion.
As much as people will like to pile on and blame the Mets, though, they probably weren't going to prevent this.
If you are looking for a silver lining here - and trust me you have to look real hard - be glad that its his elbow and not his shoulder. This surgery has become almost as common as a tonsillectomy amongst pitchers.
There is a clear roadmap back to full health. And almost everyone is back throwing as hard as they were pre-surgery.
Plus Harvey is only 24.
Next year can still be about winning for the Mets.
Truth be told the Mets were always higher on Zack Wheeler than they were on Harvey. And if anyone tells you differently, they are lying. Now, this year undoubtedly changed that, but there's no reason to believe Wheeler can't have the same type of impact next season as Harvey did this year.
Nothing changes for general manager Sandy Alderson. He still has to go get a bat. Whether it's in free agency or via trade. The Mets need an outfielder and they still have a wealth of starting pitching in their system to go get one.
Now, given the circumstances it's probably more unlikely that they deal Wheeler for a bat, but that probably was not going to happen anyway.
In a play on Harvey's Dark Knight nickname, somebody tweeted on Monday that he probably wasn't the hero Mets fans deserved, but he was the one they needed.
No matter how you spin it, Monday was as devastating a day for the Mets as there's ever been. And that is saying a lot.
It always seems to be one step forward and two steps back for this organization.