by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Once upon a time Matt Harvey was one of the elite starting pitchers in the game, but that was multiple injuries and teams ago. The once promising career has been derailed, though after being sent to Cincinnati during the 2018 season he at least showed signs that he could still be a useful Major League pitcher (he had a 7.00 ERA in 27.0 IP with the Mets prior to the deal):
111 Strikeouts (7.80 K/9)
28 Walks (1.97 BB/9)
42.6% Groundball Rate
You can argue that there’s more upside, with a 73.0% strand rate perhaps indicating some “bad luck”. Now in Los Angeles, after signing an $11 million one-year contract with the Angels, it’s fair to wonder if the soon-to-be 30-year old can continue to evolve, or if the time has come to truly write him off.
It was nice to see the control return, but outside of that is there truly something to hang your hat on? The biggest issue has been home runs, something that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon (HR/9 // flyball rate):
- 2017 – 2.04 // 43.0%
- 2018 – 1.57 // 42.3%
Maybe there’s room for a little bit of improvement, but moving to the American League and now having to maneuver around the DH is not going to help. Sure the Mariners and Rangers are going through rebuilds, but he gave up 6 HR over 9.2 IP in his last two starts against the Pirates last season.
Home runs alone don’t eliminate his value, but pairing them with a lackluster strikeout rate does. His 9.9% SwStr% and 94.4 mph average velocity after the trade shows a little bit of upside, but he doesn’t have the same electric stuff yet he continues to try and attack hitters the same way:
- Fastball – 58.70%
- Slider – 23.87%
- Changeup – 11.50%
Considering opponents hit .279 with a .486 SLG against fourseam fastballs (not to mention .375 with a .722 SLG against his changeup) does taking the same approach really make sense? Considering opponents were continually teeing off, with a 38.9% Hard%, the answer is no.
The fact is Harvey may have had some streaming value had he moved to a favorable locale somewhere in the National League. Moving to the American League, which could even further limit his strikeout upside, when coupled with the other issues just eliminates any potential. Harvey was once among the elite starters in the game, but his move to Los Angeles does nothing to help resurrect his value. For most he should be viewed as waiver wire fodder.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, CBS Sports
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