Matt Harvey didn't look great on Saturday, but would his fate have been different with a mound visit?
After Harvey gave up a three-run home run to Jonathan Villar in Saturday’s loss to the Brewers, Gary, Keith and Ron suggested that in normal circumstances, Dave Eiland would have been out on the mound to coach him up. They also suggested that Jose Lobaton would have also visited Harvey multiple times during his arduous second inning. A reason they might not have gone out? There’s a new MLB rule limiting mound visits.
Part of MLB’s efforts to speed up the game involve a new rule that limits the amount of a team’s mound visits to six per game, whether by a coach or player. Should the game go to extra innings, each team accrues one mound visit per additional inning played. Coaches and catchers now need to be selective about how many times they trot out to the rubber. And while the jury is still out if the rule will speed up the game, it has a chance to negatively impact pitchers who need in-game adjustments.
Listen, I’m not blaming Harvey’s overall shaky performance on the lack of a visit. He didn’t have his best stuff in the second inning, and he continues to labor in his starts. But you never know what Lobaton or Eiland would have been able to communicate to Harvey under pre-2018 circumstances. He clearly needed an adjustment.
New rules aren’t an excuse for a loss or a specific player’s performance. In fact, maybe on Harvey Day, the Mets need to rethink their visit strategy and be more aggressive with when they go out to the mound. There is obviously a learning curve for adapting to the rule, and Harvey may have fallen victim to it in Saturday’s loss.
This is a year where Matt is looking to bounce back, and Saturday’s performance went against that narrative. And with Jason Vargas on the mend, any bad outing is going to prompt whispers of him losing his rotation spot. Yes, it’s ultimately on Harvey to pitch better, but the coaches need be as hands-on with him as possible, regardless of new rules.