Matt Harvey Has Partially Torn UCL

Because being a Mets fan isn’t infuriating enough, the team announced today that Matt Harvey has a partially torn UCL in his pitching arm. His injury will be evaluated over the next couple of weeks to see if surgery is necessary. It really depends on how partial the tear is.

Harvey has swelling, but he had not been experiencing pain in the elbow prior to his last start, Alderson explained. He has been getting preventative treatment for his elbow since Spring Training, as well as recent treatment for his forearm. However, there was no indication of tenderness in the elbow until after his last start.

“There is plenty of time for us to see how he responds in the near term, but there will always be the open question of how long that ligament will hold up,” Sandy Alderson said. “This is not a career-ending injury under any stretch of the imagination. We’re fortunate we have a lot of pitching depth in our organization.”

There has to be a way to keep young pitchers healthy. 25 year-old Steven Strasburg, for example, has already had Tommy John surgery, recovered, and is now back to pitching full time.

It’s not just a matter of curmudgeonly lamenting, “Back in my day, pitchers used throw 30 complete games a year,” but rather that it seems that more and more pitchers can’t even finish a full season.

I’m sure Joe, as a coach and former player, will have a more informed opinion on this, but shouldn’t pitchers be A) taught better mechanics at every level (High School, College, Minors) B) stretched out at every level in preparation for (eventually) a full season in the major leagues?

As for the way the Mets handled Harvey, I can think of two or three occasions where I felt Terry Collins let him throw too many pitches (over 110, which is high by today’s standards). Otherwise, they’ve been trying to give him extra rest, and have made it clear that he was on an innings limit of about 210 for the season, which would have been about 40 more than he pitched last year. Most major league teams use similar guidelines for their young pitchers.

Harvey threw 170 innings between Triple-A and the majors last year, and 178 this year. A 24 year-old should be able to handle that kind of workload. I’m not blaming Harvey – not at all – I blame the culture in baseball that seems to leave young pitchers unprepared for the major leagues.

This is yet another frustrating development for a team, and a fan base, that can’t seem to catch a break. However, like every sports franchise, the Mets must adapt to their new Harveyless world (for however long that will be the case), and have a backup plan that doesn’t include him for the better part of 2014.

Since I’m always looking for a silver lining (lest I go crazy), this could mean the Mets come out of Spring Training 2014 with a rotation of Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard joining Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee, which isn’t half bad. That is, if they stay healthy. Remember, Niese is pitching with a partially torn labrum, and who knows who the next victim of arm trauma will be.

On a day like this, even the silver linings look gray.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. david August 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm
    I can’t help but wonder if the Mets pitching coaches from rookie ball up are not partially to blame for the numerous arm injuries Mets pitchers have suffered, and continue to suffer. At times like this I am inclined to break down the machine and find where the fault lies. 3 pitchers out with elbow injuries in 3 weeks has got to be a red flag even for the Mets. Plus Familia. Francisco. Atchison. Byrdak. Parnell. Edgin. Sorry if I missed anyone.
  2. Josh z August 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm
    Nobody is responsible, he didn’t over-pitch. Harvey wants to be a workhorse and that’s fine. I’m mostly worried about if he will be any good after surgery.
  3. Nick August 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm
    What a shame. This is a devastating loss for the Mets and, quite frankly, all of baseball. But I think this is a wake-up call for all of baseball as well. Baseball needs to start doing something about these injuries instead of just saying “It happens” and “it’s part of the game.” The Tommy John injury does not just “happen.” It is the result of something and it most definitely can be prevented through sound mechanics, proper sequencing and good functional strength in order to promote an efficient transfer of energy throughout a pitcher’s delivery. It’s amazing that Major League Baseball and its fans believe that there is no science involved in any of this. That’s simply not true! There is a reason that Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan never landed on the disabled list and it is not because the “Grim reaper” that people believe to be injury simply chose not to come after them. These guys had sound mechanics and sequencing, and good functional strength. Major League Baseball needs to stop living in the dark ages and start paying attention to the science that is baseball and injury. The science is out there! Coaches like Tom House and Steve Johnson have released it, but these people are simply not willing to use it. Part of the problem with this industry is its obsession with power. They look at a guy like Matt Harvey who throws 99 and say that “he doesn’t need help because he throws hard.” This is not always the case as we have seen here today. Matt Harvey was weak in one of the three areas listed above, and MLB and the Mets simply did not address it because of his success and his power arm. This is just ridiculous. Major League Baseball’s biggest enemy is itself. They need to get their heads out of their butts and start using the information that’s staring them right in the face.
    • Joe Janish August 26, 2013 at 11:39 pm
      Nick, I’m with you 90% — just be careful about mentioning Tom House, who knows just enough to be dangerous.

      Nolan Ryan did not go on the DL for something other than back spasms in his career until meeting House. Coincidence? Maybe — after all, the guy was in his mid-40s. But it was also the first time Ryan ever did ridiculously stupid, unscientific drills such as tossing a football as part of House’s mad experiments. Bobby Witt, Jose Guzman, Edwin Correa, and other promising Texas youngsters blew out their arms on House’s watch. But the most damning indictment of House is his insistence — as swallowed whole and published in a book by “Injury Expert” Will Carroll — that Mark Prior had “perfect mechanics.” Nothing could have been further from the truth, according to qualitative biomechanical principles.

      But, you are on the right track: the science is available, but it’s up to MLB teams to either use it, or continue to believe the world is flat.

      • Nick August 27, 2013 at 12:38 am
        Thanks for the reply! I do have one thing to say though. I think that Tom House deserves more credit than you’re giving him. Tom House was willing to change when no one else was. Other coaches saw that their pitchers were getting injured but refused to veer from conventional wisdom. Also you have to look at the many pitchers whose careers have changed for the better with House’s help. Nolan Ryan is one of them. Also we have to remember Steve Delabar, who has screws and plates in his elbow, but thanks to a program developed by Tom House and Steve Johnson (personal adaptive joint strength threshold training is the name of the program) he was able to resurrect his career. He even made the all star team earlier this year. House has even been beneficial to my career. My arm is healthier than it’s ever been and I’m throwing harder than I ever had. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in a world of stupid coaches who do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, Tom House wasn’t afraid to think differently.