After initial success in the major leagues, including 2015 when he was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, Matt Harvey has won 26 games and lost 41. He’s determined to show the Orioles that he can once again be an effective pitcher and a part of their starting rotation.
Harvey, who will turn 32 on March 27, is with his fifth organization since leaving the Mets in 2018 after signing a minor league contract with the Orioles Earlier this month, he went to a pitching facility in New Jersey and vowed to be open to what he was shown.
“It was a humbling experience to go to the facility in New Jersey and get numbers, whether it was high school kids that were working out there, that are throwing better, maybe not as hard, but better numbers than I have, and realized that, all right, I need to take a step back and figure out how to improve things,” Harvey said in a video conference call.
“I’ve been through a lot. I’ve pitched through a lot of different game situations, playoff games, had some success, World Series. Once I get those mechanics back and numbers back, I think the experience that I do have is going to get me back to being the successful pitcher that I know I can be.”
Harvey started four postseason games for the New York Mets in 2015. Since he left the Mets, he’s been through the Cincinnati, Oakland, Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City organizations.
“I didn’t really talk to anybody a whole lot before coming in here other than my agent and what they were about what I might expect when I got there,” Harvey said.
“After going and realizing what I was doing numbers-wise the last couple of years, obviously it’s been there with other teams I played with. I didn’t open up to the fact that my numbers kind of sucked.”
Harvey says he’s willing to embrace the teaching of Orioles pitching coach Chris Holt.
“[It] seemed like they knew what I was doing wrong in the last couple of years,” Harvey said. “It was a good fit to get me back to throwing the way I did before. The last couple of years I’ve had trouble getting back to that, just really searching I guess you could say, and after talking to my agent, it seemed like a good fit and a good opportunity to get things going in spring training and have an opportunity to get back in the big leagues.”
Harvey, Félix Hernández and Wade LeBlanc signed minor league contracts to compete for starting spots.
Last year, Harvey was 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in seven appearances, three in relief. While nearly all of his major league experience is as a starter, he’s open to coming out of the bullpen. His last two appearances with the Royals last year were in relief before suffering a lat injury that ended his season in mid-September.
“That took some getting used to, but I think the last outing before I had the little injury, it was kind of going in the right direction,” Harvey said. “Whatever they need, it’s completely up to them. It’s my job to get guys out and do whatever is called upon me.”
Harvey was scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on Sunday, and he’s one of 37 pitchers the Orioles are looking at this spring. Most of the pitchers are young.
“I’ve only been here a couple of days and really don’t know many of the guys,” Harvey said. “Watching the bullpens yesterday and seeing the arms that we have, it’s pretty impressive. I’m obviously happy to be here and be a part of that and anyway I can contribute and give help to the younger guys, just be around. I’ve told everybody that whatever they need, whatever they want to ask, I’m all theirs and up for whatever.”
Harvey was the seventh overall pick by the Mets in 2010, four spots behind Manny Machado, and by July 2012 was in the big leagues. A year later, he was an All-Star in a game that was held in his home park, Citi Field, but he missed the 2014 season after Tommy John surgery.
In 2015, the Mets made the World Series, and Harvey was 13-8. Then it went south.
“I think the first couple of years, I threw so well, it came easy, it came natural,” Harvey said. “After having some struggles over the last couple of years, it changed my mind to, I guess opening up more on what I could do to change things or get back to where they were. I kept going out there and feeling there was a small thing missing in my mechanics, and when you go out there feeling that way, you’re in an uphill battle to begin with, which is how I felt the last couple of years, more fighting myself than anything.
“I think, me committing to see those guys in South Jersey, and I guess start over and really open my ears to any option or opinion on what I can do was a big help. I told the guys here, whatever you think mechanically can help me, whatever you believe needs to be done to get me back, I know it’s in there.
“The last couple of years have been frustrating because I know it’s there. I haven’t had that click moment where I know there it was. That’s the old me. That’s who I think I can be and, hopefully, we can find that as soon as we possibly can here.”