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Angels News: Former pitcher looking to make comeback

Matt Harvey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Matt Harvey, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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It appears that former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Harvey is still hoping to prove he can become a viable major league pitcher once again.

New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Matt Harvey finds himself in a similar position to a lot of players, hoping for a clear picture in regards to the resumption of the 2020 MLB season. However, unlike many of his colleagues, Harvey is hopeful for another reason.

He’s entering the 2020 season still looking for a job.

Once set for superstardom on the mound, the former ace of the Mets registered a 6.9 fWAR during his first full season in the league, bolstered by a 9-5 record, a 2.27 ERA, a 2.00 FIP, and a 9.64 K/9 ratio. He would miss the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery but came back strong in 2015, amassing a 13-8 record, a 2.71 ERA, a 3.05 FIP, and an 8.94 K/9 mark, good enough for a 4.0 fWAR over 189.1 innings. He also subsequently provided the Mets with a 2-0 record, a 3.04 ERA, and a 9.1 K/9 during their postseason run which ended with a World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals.

The wheels fell off in 2017 when the specter of thoracic outlet syndrome raised its ugly head and Harvey’s performance fell as a result. After his return from the ensuing surgery, Harvey would also find himself on the outs with the team as well, as disciplinary actions also became an issue. Coupled with an increased ineffectiveness on the mound, Harvey found himself traded to the Cincinnati Reds midway through the 2018 season.

The move to Cincinnati helped boost Harvey’s value a bit, as he went 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA, a 4.33 FIP, and a 7.80 K/9 ratio over 24 starts with the Reds. While it wasn’t the Harvey of old, it gave teams hope that he would be a bounceback candidate and put him on the Radar for the Angels, who were looking to find a bargain to help bolster their own rotation.

The signing of Harvey turned out to not be so much of a bargain. The Angels committed a one-year, $11 million deal to see if they could resurrect the Dark Knight. Instead, they wound up with the broken-down version that had been expunged from New York a year prior. In 12 starts for the Angels, Harvey went 3-5 with a 7.09 ERA, a 6.35 FIP, a 5.88 K/9, and a 22.4% HR/FB ratio. The Angels were forced to place just midway through the season. He would latch on with the Oakland Athletics on a minor league deal, but would never receive the call back to Major League Baseball in 2019.

Now 31-years-old, the question becomes how much Matt Harvey has left in the tank to prove that is a viable option for a roster spot, be it in the rotation or the bullpen.

It’s not hard to see where things went wrong. Outside of the surgical issues, Harvey has lost two miles per hour from his fastball and his overall pitch assortment has become more hittable. According to Baseball Savant, Harvey’s average exit velocity induced went from just 86.4 mph in 2015 and 86.8 in 2016 to a career-worst 90.3 mph in 2019. Coupled with an increased walk-rate,  a rise in launch angle from 9.6 to 12.2, and an increase in hard-hit percentage (41.6% in 2019), Harvey has been a victim of ineffective offerings.

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It remains to be seen if Matt Harvey can put these struggles behind him and reverse the trends that have dogged him in recent years. The likelihood of finding a major league deal in a shortened season may be a stretch, but if he can find a way to stay healthy and ready, he may be able to secure an opportunity as the year progresses or even a look in 2021 after a year of tinkering.

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