So, Sunday night Matt Harvey pitched against the Yankees, and (as you might imagine), the subject of Harvey's autumn workload came up...
Oh, and this was before the bullpen took over and got knocked around for a bunch of runs. After ESPN's Dan Shulman reviewed some of the particulars including the pitcher and his employers and his agent and his doctors, the conversation continued:
Well, I don't think it was really 99 percent. But if so, you can include Dirk Hayhurst in the 1 percent (which I'll bet wouldn't be the first time for him).
To answer Shulman and Kruk's question, though, there's an exceedingly simply explanation for the delay in addressing the question about Harvey's workload in 2015: Human Nature.
Last winter, there simply was not any good reason to think there would ultimately be a big question about Harvey's workload. Remember? The Nationals were literally the biggest favorites in any division, with the Mets presumed to finish a dozen or so games out of first place and fighting for wild-card scraps with the likes of the Pirates and Cubs and Giants and Padres and (remember?) maybe even the Marlins. Along with a Mystery Team or two.
We've got the mental and emotional energies for only so many questions. I'll bet you could sit down right this minute and make a list of five questions about your own life that have so far gone unanswered because a) they're hard to answer, and b) you haven't been forced to answer them yet.
So you put off answering them, because there's a temporal and emotional cost to answering them. And hey, maybe they'll just take care of themselves!
The Mets didn't have to wind up in the playoffs this year, and Matt Harvey could easily have suffered a minor injury that knocked him out of the rotation for a few weeks; in either case, there never would have been any firestorm.
But the Mets are (almost) in the playoffs and Harvey has been healthy all season. So now everybody has to answer the question. And somehow the question will be answered, however clumsily.
Oh, and by the way, is there some great advantage to answering the question early? When the Nationals and Steven Strasburg answered the question early, was the firestorm averted?
No. You're damned to the fiery lake if you do, and damned if you don't.
Speaking of which, there's still nobody in the world who can say with any confidence that shutting Strasburg down kept him healthy, although (both now and then) I'm inclined to give the Nationals the benefit of the doubt. Even though nobody really knows how many innings Strasburg should have pitched, or how many Harvey should pitch. Or even if we should be talking about innings, per se.
Well, except we probably shouldn't be. From Jared Diamond's post-firestorm story in The Wall Street Journal:
So there you've got the Mets' rationale for reportedly imposing a secret innings limit on Harvey in Sunday night's game instead of a pitches limit!*
* Turns out it was 5 innings, just enough to qualify Harvey for a W; very sneaky, Mets! Or maybe not so sneaky after all? And does anyone else think maybe Harvey pitched just as hard in those five innings as he would have in six or seven, if not for the innings limit? Human nature, don't you know.
Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that the Mets chose innings rather than pitches because a) nobody really knows what to do, and b) if nobody knows, they might as well just do what everyone can more easily grok, which is innings? Because the numbers are smaller?
Because that's my suspicion.