As I watched Matt Harvey lose himself in the middle innings once again, I became angry. I won’t deny it. I was going to take him to task for not working hard enough, for being unable to find his stuff, for, quite simply, not being, for one reason or another, the pitcher he was last year.
But then I saw him hanging his head in the dugout, upset beyond words by another sub-average outing. And I knew that I was wrong.
Matt Harvey can find himself. He will find himself. And unless he’s injured, I’ll go into his next start, and the one after that, and every start he makes, with the mindset that this could be the day he brings himself back.
Logical? Not particularly. Sensible? No, not that either. But better to maintain a slightly unrealistic sense that good things may return than to wallow in self-pity at goings-on that may correct themselves.
And really, how unrealistic is it? Harvey, for what seemed like the dozenth start in a row, was victimized by bad luck once again. But for Michael Conforto’s error in left, the first two runs he allowed may not have scored at all, or at the very least, would almost certainly have been reduced to one. The final run charged to him was allowed by Jerry Blevins, who has otherwise been solid out of the bullpen. The fourth run he allowed scored on a soft ground ball through a shifted infield, one of far too many that Harvey’s given up this year. And even the third, which scored on a ringing double, only scored because of an ill-gotten hit from opposing pitcher Jon Gray.
Clearly, Harvey wasn’t himself. He may even be injured. But he wasn’t fortunate either. And in the dugout after he came out, head bowed, face invisible, he was simply awash in blame. He knew he hadn’t been his best, and that tore at him, such that he could barely lift his head.
And that’s not something I’m interested in getting angry at. Matt Harvey may find himself next start, away from Coors Field, or in a month, or next year, or never. But he won’t stop trying. The propaganda artists determined to smear Matt’s reputation would disagree, but tonight proved it, as part of a process that’s been going on all season: Matt Harvey is a hard worker, and, when he’s on, a harder thrower. He’s giving us everything he’s got, and the fact that he can’t be better, we learned tonight, hurts him just as much as it hurts the millions of us watching.
They say that it’s not how you fall, but how you get back up. Matt Harvey will have his chance, and if we’ve learned anything about Matt from watching him pitch through bloody noses and bruises, everything from snow to Tommy John surgery, it is that he’ll take that chance and run with it. He may not immediately become the Harvey of old that we remember, but so long as he’s got a working arm to pitch with, he’ll be back on the mound against the Nationals giving us everything he’s got. And at the end of it all, that’s all you can ask.
As for the offense? It was quiet. Our entire offense has gone quiet. It happens. You’ll remember what happened the last time our offense went quiet: we went 13-2, or something like that, and moved into first place.
Well, that works perfectly. The Nationals moved into first tonight, and we play them, coming up next week. And I don’t know about you, but I’m already sick and tired of Bryce Harper and the Nationals walking around like they’ve accomplished anything.
We had to go cold at some point: all teams do, and we’ve got a streakier lineup than most. That’s not a bad thing: it just means that we’ll go 10-2 instead of 7-5, and 4-8 instead of 6-6. But we weren’t going to stay hot all year.
With the Nationals coming up, Max Scherzer due for a beating, and Bryce Harper due to learn that you can’t walk your way to glory against our pitching staff, I’d say we picked the best time possible to cool down, just in time to heat up again.