The Dark Knight speaks
Our man Ken Rosenthal got Scott Boras on the phone, and Boras seems more measured about Matt Harvey’s workload than what we’d seen earlier.
This time, Boras didn’t suggest that Harvey should be shut down upon reaching 180 innings; didn’t suggest that the Mets had previously agreed that Harvey would be shut down at 180.
Rather, Boras just said he thought everybody was on roughly the same page, thanks to a “study” Boras presented, with six pitchers who a) had never thrown 200 innings in a season, and b) then had Tommy John Surgery...
The four pitchers that Boras cited were Shaun Marcum, Josh Johnson, Jarrod Parker and Kris Medlen. All experienced complications, Boras said. All but Marcum had a second Tommy John.
In contrast, Boras said, the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann built their innings in a steadier progression, reaching 200 innings only in their fourth full season after Tommy John.
That study is why Boras believes it is reasonable to follow Andrews’ recommendation of a 180-inning limit for Harvey. Harvey did not throw a single pitch last season and established his career high of 178 1/3 innings in 2013.
“This is the thing the doctors are most scared about,” Boras said. “Matt Harvey threw zero innings in 2014. He will be the only player in history ever to go from 0 to 200 innings.
“If you exceed your (career-high innings total) and you do it in your second season after Tommy John . . . all of those guys had complications. All of those guys had problems.
With all due respect, that’s not a study. That’s spending three minutes on the internet and making a couple of really short lists.
It’s highly likely that Scott Boras has some really bright people working for him. What’s not clear is whether their analytical work ever sees the light of day. After all, these are the people who compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax. Favorably.
Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Boras Corp. largely eschews real studies and real analysis ... for the simple reason that those things wouldn’t much serve the larger goal, which of course is milking the largest possible bonuses and contracts. At this point, Boras’s top chores are 1) convincing first-round draft picks that he can get them the biggest bonuses (check) and 2) bamboozling impatient owners into forking over mega-contracts to players past their prime (ditto). Neither of those things require sophisticated analysis. So it’s unreasonable to expect that from him.
Still, a couple of questions about “that study” ...
So is the magic number 180, or 200? If 200 is the magic number, why shut down Harvey at 180? Why not 185? Or 199? And of course the answer is that 200 isn’t a magic number, nor is 180.
What’s more, why are we talking about innings at all? All innings are created equal. As Ken Rosenthal pointed out the other day, Harvey’s averaging only 14.8 pitches per inning this season, 12th lowest in the National League. IF you were conducting a serious study – you know, the sort of study that might actually do someone some good, instead of being used as a public hammer – wouldn’t you focus on pitches rather than innings?
Scott Boras is serious about protecting the long-term earnings potential of his clients, but he’s not serious about baseball research. At least not in a public way.
Which, again, is exactly what we should expect. But the fact that Boras feels compelled to publicize this “study” just reinforces how little anyone really knows about everything.
What we do know is that Matt Harvey says he does want to pitch in October:
Together, we are coming up with a plan to reach an innings limit during the season. It will be a compromise between the doctors and the Mets organization to get me, and the team, to where we need to be for our postseason run.
I understand the risks. I am also fully aware of the opportunity the Mets have this postseason. Winning the division and getting to the playoffs is our goal.
Once we are there, I will be there.
Well then. This should be interesting. Especially with (as I write these words) the Mets’ lead over the Nationals having fallen to just four games.
Is there time for another study?