The MASN All Access podcast released a show on April 27 titled “Matt Harvey is becoming tradable.” The episode came out far too late to be considered an April Fool’s joke, which leads us to believe they were being serious.
I’m not bringing this up to take a shot at Paul or Brendan—the two do an excellent job from inside the warehouse—or for some type of old-takes-exposed moment. I’m referencing the episode because it exemplifies something important. It shows that Harvey resembled a major league pitcher for multiple stretches during the season.
The Orioles signed Harvey to a minor-league deal in the middle of February. He joined fellow has-beens Felix Hernandez and Wade LeBlanc, along with several unheralded pitching prospects, in a competition to break camp with Baltimore.
Hernandez flamed out quickly, while LeBlanc appeared in six games for the Orioles. As for Harvey, the veteran led the team with 28 starts.
Unfortunately, Harvey’s numbers took quite the hit after that mark. His 6-14 record cannot be ignored, and his 6.27 ERA was a far cry from those dominant days in New York. His 1.543 WHIP jumps off the page, while his 4.60 FIP is the least-offensive stat.
Harvey did look sharp out of the gate. He limited Boston to two runs over 4.2 innings in an eventual win, and allowed three runs or fewer in six of his first seven starts. Harvey rarely worked late into games, but a six-inning performance against the Yankees had some believing he had recaptured his mojo. Harvey held New York to just one run on three hits at Camden Yards the day before the MASN episode was released.
Harvey picked up his third win of the season with 5.2 innings of two run ball against the Athletics, and lowered his ERA to 3.60 with four scoreless innings Boston. Unfortunately for Paul, Brendan, the Orioles, and anyone else who follows the Birds, things fell apart rather quickly after that. Harvey allowed five or more runs in six of his next seven starts.
That would have been it for Harvey if he pitched for almost any other team. Fortunately for the 32-year-old, the Orioles had nobody else to take the ball every fifth day. Harvey labored into the fourth or fifth inning before inevitably coughing up enough runs to chase him from the game throughout the month of June.
Harvey struggled almost every time out for a long stretch, but the righty kept grinding. He filled innings after the Orioles refused to sign an established starting pitcher. He took his lumps, said the right things to the press, and attempted to turn the page after each loss.
While Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini took center stage in Colorado, Harvey benefited from the extra rest at the All-Star break. In his first start of the second half July 18, he blanked the Royals through six innings to pick up his first victory since May 1. Harvey followed the outing with six more scoreless innings against the Nationals and tossed 6.1 shutout frames against Detroit after that.
Harvey posted a 0.995 WHIP and 2.45 ERA over four July starts. Still, the bounce-back outings were not enough to convince any team to take a flyer on the veteran at the trade deadline. Unsurprisingly, the former Met reverted back to the guy with a 6+ ERA toward the end of the year.
Matt Harvey was a bad pitcher for a bad baseball team. Harvey, like the Orioles, had his moments, but did not perform consistently enough to produce positive results over a full season. So what’s next for the soon-to-be 33-year-old?
Harvey will likely receive a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, and that offer could come from the Orioles. Brandon Hyde spoke highly of Harvey’s character throughout the year, and Baltimore likely feels that they can maximize his talent better than any other team.
I have no issue with the Orioles giving Harvey another look, but his signing should not check any free-agency boxes. The Orioles need major-league help in the rotation, and Harvey did not portray himself as a consistent option moving forward.
Baltimore could ultimately decide that the innings, even in spring training, are better off with their plethora of pitching prospects, but the team has never shied away from a minor-league contract. Harvey may have played his last days in an Orioles uniform, but nobody can say he did not give it his all every time he took the mound.
Previous 2021 Orioles player reviews: Valaika/Gutierrez/Mateo, Paul Fry/César Valdez, Watkins/Greene/etc., Ramón Urias, Dean Kremer, Tanner Scott, DJ Stewart, Tyler Wells, Anthony Santander, Cole Sulser, Bruce Zimmermann, Austin Hays, Severino/Wynns, Dillon Tate, Keegan Akin, Ryan Mountcastle
Tomorrow: Trey Mancini