Please Don’t Stop Believin’

What a disheartening loss.  What a disappointing loss.  What a head-hanging, lips-pursing loss.

It’s ironic, somehow: this loss feels all the worse, because we didn’t play that badly.  We hit a few home runs, scored five.  We fielded the ball cleanly.  These are the things that are supposed to carry us to victory.  We score a few runs, then our deadly pitching staff brings home a win.

But there lies the problem.  And when something’s wrong with Matt Harvey, all bets are off — in both directions.

There’s no getting around Harvey’s problems.  They’re elephant in the room, the problem that we’d all like nothing more than to pretend will pass on its own but cannot in good conscience ignore any longer.  They’re a symptom of a larger problem, that’s we’ve tried to paper over even as we’ve worried on our own: pitching is fragile.  Even dream-team, rotation-of-the-century pitching.  No one is immune.

We saw it with Harvey in 2013.  My 16 year old self saw Matt Harvey and saw a God.  A Mets icon.  He sure pitched like it, despite what some have said.  9-5.  2.27 E.R.A.  The lowest E.R.A. in no-decisions of all time, not to mention all the one-run losses he got stuck with.  The way he was pitching, I knew that nothing could stop him.  I’d seen his name on injury-probable lists; I scoffed them off as naive, not aware of the bubble of greatness that surrounded Matt Harvey, which would protect him from injuries reserved for lesser human beings.

And then the news came in.  We all know what happened; Harvey, through no fault of his own, had busted up his arm.  In pitching one of the greatest Mets seasons, to that point, of the previous several decades, he’d thrown a few pitches too many, or too hard.  He was done.

After what happened to Harvey, I’ve got no similar optimistic beliefs about anyone else.  I’m resigned to the fact that Syndergaard will go down at some point, and that deGrom and Matz won’t keep up their excellence forever.  Hell, even Familia won’t last forever.

I must say, though, that I didn’t expect it this soon.

Harvey’s problem may be mechanical.  In fact, his mechanics do look different; he’s not throwing as easily as he used to.  I’m hoping that it’s a simple problem that can be fixed in one start; I’m not sure that it is.  He was throwing 97 in Spring; now he’s not.  It’s never a good sign when velocity disappears, and even less so when it’s over the course of two or three starts.

These were the games we were supposed to win.  We score, not overwhelmingly but enough, and one of our four aces carries us to victory.

Of course, there’s still a small sample size to be observed.  Harvey’s made three starts.  He’s had two and three start stretches of mediocrity before; so far, they haven’t lasted.  Here’s hoping this one does the same, and finds its way out the door posthaste.

While Harvey was shutting down the Indians for four innings and then emphatically letting them in for the next 1.2, the offense was quiet, save a leadoff home run from Curtis Granderson.  Then, after Harvey left, we got going.  Another blast from Cespedes.  A shot from the captain that was out of any other ballpark.  Another bomb from Neil Walker.  All three are working diligently at thoroughly dispelling the day-long myths that they’d lost their offensive prowess, and for the most part, are succeeding.

It’s not a game we should have lost — not at all.  But still — I’m an optimist.  I love this team.  We’ve got Matz tomorrow and Thor the day after; that’s a winning recipe if I’ve ever seen one.  Matt Harvey can come back: he came back emphatically from Tommy John surgery, and if this is just a mechanical issue, should do the same, and much more quickly.  Steven Matz isn’t going to pitch to an E.R.A. in the thirties forever.  D’Arnaud will hit.  Eventually, we’ll be better.

Matt Harvey seems weak right now.  He looks less than whole, like he’s missing something.  As such, so do the Mets.  But baseball is a marathon, and a lot can change in a day.  Let’s go get a win tomorrow with Matz on the mound, and let’s hand it off to Thor to bring us back to .500.  And then we’ve got Verrett, and then Colón, and after that, who knows; a pitcher with the spunk and winner’s mentality of Matt Harvey may have repaired his problems by then.

As much reason as there may be to panic, there’s equal or greater reason to relax, to enjoy the season, and to know that although things look bad right now, there’s no reason they can’t look good tomorrow.

And no, I don’t know which is true.  I don’t know what will happen.  But this isn’t the supreme court; it’s baseball.  It’s fun.  We watch to enjoy ourselves, to relieve stress, to relax.

So until we know otherwise, let’s not get crazy for no reason — it’s not good for anyone.  We don’t know.  So, until proven wrong, Harvey will be fine in a week.  Matz will put us back on track tomorrow.  Thor will keep doing what he’s done.

We’re Mets fans.  We’ve gotta believe.  And until proven otherwise, let’s do just that.


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