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Matt Harvey done for season, possibly longer

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As if the New York Mets did not suffer enough over the past decade, the bad news just keeps coming. Perhaps their brightest player in the future, Matt Harvey is now officially shut down for the rest of the season with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right, pitching elbow. The National League All-Star starter was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA. He also leads the majors with 191 strikeouts.

First it was Johan Santana, now it is Matt Harvey. While Johan is older and probably past his prime, Harvey had the whole MLB world in his grasp. Although the current diagnosis is that Harvey may not need Tommy John surgery, baseball experts believe it is inevitable. The current plan for Harvey is to rest, and hopefully his elbow will heal on its own. He will be re-diagnosed once the swelling goes down. Harvey made 26 starts and pitched 178 1/3 innings this year, marking the highest innings total of his career. Last year, Harvey threw 169 1/3 innings between the minors and majors.

Luckily for Met fans, recent high profile pitchers have been able to return from Tommy John surgery to perform at high levels. It is not considered the ‘death penalty’ for a pitcher anymore, same as an ‘ACL’ tear is not considered a ‘death penalty’ for NFL players anymore. Recent pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery and comeback strong are;

Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals (probably best known to Mets fans’ as striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded during Game 7 of the NLCS). Wainwright is 15-7 with a 2.58 ERA, and will most likely finish second in the NL Cy Young voting behind Clayton Kershaw. He is also 29-20 since returning on April 7th, 2012, with a 3.26 ERA and 397 1/3 innings pitched.

Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals- Strasburg returned from his Tommy John surgery on September 6th, 2011, and returned to All-Star form in 2012, finishing with a record of 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 159 1/3 innings pitched before being shut down due to an ‘innings limit’.

A.J Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates- Burnett underwent Tommy John surgery after 4 starts into the 2003 season, and returned to action in June of 2004, finishing with a record of 7-6 and even hitting 102 MPH on the radar gun. Burnett landed a lucrative, 5-year $82.5 million deal with the New York Yankees on December 18, 2008. In 2012, Burnett went 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA, and pitching 202 1/3 innings.

Josh Johnson of the then Florida Marlins- Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and returned July 10th, 2008. Johnson had back-to-back All-Star game selections in 2009 and 2010, and is another example of a pitcher coming back stronger than before.

John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves- Mets fans’ also know John Smoltz all too well. Smoltz underwent Tommy John surgery in 2000, and is currently the only pitcher to amass at least 200 victories and 150 saves. Although Smoltz was originally moved to the bullpen directly after his procedure (only recording 55 saves his first full season back, and compiled 154 saves from 2001-2004), in 2005 he did return to the starting rotation to log over 150 innings.

Although Tommy John surgery is nothing to play around with, the bottom line is that their is still hope. Over the past decade, with better technology and improved rehab techniques, pitchers have been able to come back. Hopefully, Harvey will be able to follow in these footsteps.

Justin Lerner: PureSportsNY

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