Harvey absolutely exploded onto the scene in 2013, recording a 2.27 ERA (backed by a 2.00 FIP) to go with a 0.93 WHIP and 191:31 K:BB ratio in 178.1 innings before he blew out his elbow. He required Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2014 as a result.
Harvey should be fully healthy by the time opening day rolls around in 2015. He had his final bullpen session of the year on Monday and Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweeted some encouraging news.
Matt Harvey was consistently throwing 95 mph in his final bullpen session of the year today, according to Sandy Alderson. #Mets
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 15, 2014
Harvey was averaging a 95.1 MPH (per Fangraphs) fastball before the injury.
So, should fantasy owners temper their expectations regarding Harvey this offseason? Or can we get the hype-train rolling?
I am all in on Harvey. If I’m not driving the hype-train I’m certainly riding shotgun. His velocity is already approaching where it was prior to his injury and he’s so talented of a pitcher that I have little to no worries regarding him re-gaining his control. I believe that as long as he’s able to remain healthy next season, Matt Harvey will be a top-10 pitcher and if you can get him for any sort of a discount on draft day he could be one of the biggest steals of 2015.
The only question potential fantasy owners need to ask themselves before taking a chance on Harvey in 2015 is whether or not they need to worry about him re-injuring that elbow.
There has been loads of research conducted within the last few years regarding Tommy John surgery due to a tremendous increase in the number of torn UCL’s we’re seeing in the baseball world. In a study done last summer by Bleacher Report injury analyst, Will Carroll, we were provided with an idea of how long the new ligament is expected to hold up and what we should expect long-term from those who have a successful procedure.
This is what Carroll found,
Research I did in 2006 led me to the concept of the ‘Tommy John honeymoon.’ I found that five years after surgery, there were very few additional elbow problems, which indicated the transplanted ligament was stronger. Further research showed that the process called ligamentization was at work.
However, after the five-year period, the tendon becomes a normal ligament, subject to the same kind of overuse injuries. With so many pitchers getting a first surgery, often when they’re quite young, there’s a great chance a second surgery will be necessary.
To sum up his findings, Carroll noticed that a pitcher rarely requires two Tommy John surgeries within five years of each other; but after that five year mark the tendon becomes a normal ligament so then a pitcher is subject once more to the same type of injury.
So no, I don’t believe that potential Harvey owners need to worry about him suffering a second serious elbow injury. There have been a few exceptions to the five-year rule (Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen and Daniel Hudson) but that’s exactly what those guys are, exceptions. Harvey has had a very normal rehab up to this point and if he’s healthy when you do your draft next spring, you should feel confident in his ability to hold up for the season.