I beat the "Matt Harvey will shove in 2016" drum probably as loudly as anybody in the fantasy world this spring. Like in this piece I wrote, titled "Matt Harvey's slider is obscene again" from mid March.
Warthen, who reporters say is a straight shooter, thinks that Harvey will be in contention for the best pitcher in baseball in 2016 with the return of his slider and late fastball life. This fantasy baseball writer agrees. If that slider and late fastball life are truly back for the long haul, Harvey will be right there with the most elite pitching in the sport, and a low 2's ERA is something that could be on the horizon for him.
And here, in my fantasy baseball bold predictions piece from late March, where I thought that Harvey could finish as a top 3 pitcher this year.
I expect Harvey to shove this year. Harvey is the 11th SP taken by Yahoo ADP at the time of writing this, and I think there's a good shot he finishes way ahead of that.
My eyebrows raised when I saw that Harvey only had 5 strikeouts through his first two starts of the year. I became very alarmed in his next start against the Indians, where Harvey's fastball velocity was the lowest I've ever seen it and his obscene slider from early March was flat and getting knocked around. Something was wrong.
Ace pitchers in their primes don't just forget how to pitch in one offseason. When a guy goes from a 2 something ERA to an ERA just under 5, that brings out legitimate concern that something is not physically right. And Harvey has faced a lot of bad offenses, too; he's pitched against the Braves four times, the Phillies, the Reds, the Padres, the Brewers, and the White Sox. That's over half his starts.
Well, yesterday, we found out that Harvey is flying to St. Louis to see a vascular specialist to check Harvey out to see if he has a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), which sounds nasty reading about it. This is from the Mayo clinic:
Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when the blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) become compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers.
Treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome usually involves physical therapy and pain relief measures. Most people improve with these approaches. In some cases, however, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Beyond the Box Score explored how this injury can affect pitchers and concluded,
There aren't a lot of pitchers who have had this injury, but the track record isn't good. Counting on a pitcher who has been through this injury is a terrifying proposition...until we have a better track record of pitchers returning from thoracic outlet syndrome, it will keep its reputation as one of the worst arm injuries that a pitcher could suffer.
Reading this made my heart hurt for one of the most exciting pitchers I have ever seen in my lifetime. Baseball can be such a cruel sport sometimes. There's still hope that he doesn't have TOS, but it doesn't look good at the moment.
Harvey also had a blood clot in his bladder in late March, which almost caused him to miss his opening night start against the Royals. This was right around the time when he started struggling on the mound. I wonder if the two issues are related.
In redraft leagues, I would stand pat until we get more information, although it's probably safe to drop Harvey now. In keeper leagues, I am still clinging onto upside if Harvey can get himself healthy, but that scenario is difficult to forecast right now.