Despite his solid outing on Sunday, the buzz around Matt Harvey after the game had less to do with his performance on the hill and more to do with the fact the Mets pulled their ace after five scoreless innings, then fell to the hated Yankees 11-2.
Of course, the early exit is part of the Mets’ plan to manage Harvey’s innings the rest of the season (and perhaps postseason), a controversy which general manager Sandy Alderson apparently doesn’t appreciate, and which he is not putting at the feet of his pitcher.
"If we ask him to do something, he’ll do it," Alderson said of Harvey, per NJ.com. "At this point, it’s not about Matt not wanting to do this or not wanting to do that, it’s a question of what we think is appropriate. I think it’s unfair to put all of this or any of this, frankly, on him at this point."
Due to the limitations placed on him as he finishes his first season since having Tommy John surgery, Harvey’s night was capped off at 77 pitches on Sunday. The start before that, 12 days prior, he threw only 74 pitches (though he was shelled for seven runs in 5 1/3 innings in that one).
The issue of an innings limit on Harvey came to the national forefront in early September, when Scott Boras, Harvey’s agent, said doctors had prescribed a 180-inning limit before the season began. The agent and the club have exchanged barbs and blame since, with Harvey seeming to get caught in the middle.
"More than anything I want to be out there," Harvey said after the dominant performance. "The way things were going — a tight game — the last thing I want to do is come out. I’m kind of kicking myself for kind of having a couple of long innings and getting the pitch count up. I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not. For me, I always want to be out there and the last thing I ever want to do — especially in a close game like that — is come out."
The Mets bullpen imploded after Harvey exited the game, allowing five runs in the sixth inning alone, which once again brought criticism upon Harvey and the Mets for limiting his usage.
However, Alderson stresses that the 26-year-old right-hander is not the one to blame for his limitations.
"Matt wasn’t involved in the conversations previously. He’s stated that he was prepared to do whatever we ask him to do and to this point that’s what he’s done and we expect that to continue," Alderson said. "I think his point of view is that he will pitch when he’s asked to pitch. That makes it incumbent on us to be reasonable and realistic on the demands we place on him. Which I think we’ve been since the beginning of the year."