Sports Commentary 8/27/13
Matt Harvey’s UCL Injury puts up a red flag….
DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T
The reaction was mixed, but nearly all negative, when the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg at the end of last season. Ridicule, disdain and scorn were heaped on the Nats when they stuck to their position of limiting their young ace to 160 innings in a season when they were on a post season heading and his presence could not only have enhanced their position, but have made them a formidable presence in the post season. While officials from other teams questioned the wisdom of the action by the Nationals and expressed concerns about the precedent it may set, baseball insiders and outsiders warned that with an available Strasburg in ensuing seasons the Nats may never again have the opportunity they had last year. The numbers du jour demonstrate the validity of that argument. While he’s had an up and down season with a 6-9 record, Strasburg will cap a very strong August tomorrow when he faces the Miami Marlins, coming off a complete game shutout, a nine strikeout effort and an 8-2/3 innings outing, while working his ERA to an even 3.00. He’s pitched 156 innings with no discussion of limiting his action the rest of the way. The Nationals, however, are 13 games off the pace in the National League East and eight games back in the wild card race. If last season ends up being as close as the Nationals get to the World Series in Strasburg’s career the questions will linger about being overprotective of their ace. Don’t tell it to the New York Mets, who’s pitching futures were the best in baseball, with that kid from Mystic, Matt Harvey, topping the big board. Until Yesterday. The Mets spent the season promising their fans this was the last rebuilding campaign, next year they’ll be in it for real with Harvey leading the way. A partially torn UCL, either suffered or aggravated in Saturday’s loss to the Tigers, has put Harvey on the shelf for the remainder of this season and the Mets may have to back off a bit on their committment to next year if it turns out Harvey requires Tommy John surgery. With a rehab time of 12-14 months after the surgery he’d be out of action until spring training 2015. Would the Mets have been better off being more cautious with Harvey? They should have learned a valuable lesson last season when they let Johan Santana throw 136 pitches for the sake of a no hitter, the last shining moment for Santana in a Mets uniform. If the Mets were sincere in their committment to next year, keeping Harvey intact should have been job one this year. Last year Strasburg was shut down after 160 innings, this year Harvey threw 178, 180 if you count the All Star Game. He’s fanned 191 batters, an impressive statistic, but one that requires more pitches and more effort than pop-ups and ground balls. A lot of pressure has been put on his money arm this season and it was evident early on Saturday against the Tigers that all was not well. Still, they left him in for 6-2/3 innings, 102 pitches and 13 hits, a combination that may have only made matters worse as the totals were adding up. If Mets GM Sandy Alderson was among those who were critical of the Nationals handling of Stephen Strasburg a year ago, he may be having second thoughts now. If he had those second thoughts first he might still be on schedule for keeping his promise to Mets fans next year. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.