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Matt Harvey DFA’d. What does that mean? May 4, 2018

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Sports.
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Mets mopup reliever Matt Harvey was asked by the team to accept an assignment to the AAA Las Vegas 51s. Harvey refused, so the team will designate him for assignment, or “DFA” him. Here are some big questions that might arise from that move.

First and foremost, why did the team ask Harvey to accept a demotion? Because they needed to. The Mets don’t have the right to send Harvey down on their own volition like they do with other players. Hansel Robles, for example, was optioned to the minors earlier this year, and the Mets were not required to ask his permission because Robles had less than five years of service time and had only been shuttled between the majors and the minors in two prior years. New players have three “option years”: as long as they have less than five years of service time, players can be down to the minors and called back up by the team without having to get the consent of the player. Robles is in his third option year, since the team used options in 2015 and 2017, as well as this year. Steven Matz has never been optioned to the minors, so the Mets could sent him to AAA at will. Harvey, then, would have all three option years left, since he hasn’t been sent down to the minors since debuting in 2012. However, he has over five years of service time. As a result, he can exercise what’s called “veteran’s consent,” meaning the team cannot send him down without his permission or without jumping through some hoops first.

What hoops? In order to send Harvey down, they have to first change his status to “designated for assignment.” That means he comes off both the 25-man (active) and 40-man (extended) rosters. The 25-man roster comprises all the players eligible to play in a game today for the team; the 40-man roster includes players who the team can call up, if they have room on the active roster. Sending Harvey to the minors removes him from the 25-man roster automatically, but had he consented to an assignment to Vegas, he would have remained on the 40-man roster. By DFAing him, the Mets open a spot on both the active and 40-man rosters and place Harvey in a kind of limbo for up to 10 days.

What can the Mets do now? Conceivably, the Mets could immediately release Harvey. They would remain on the hook for his entire $5,625,000 salary for 2018. Harvey would be free to sign with any other team. If he did, any salary paid to him would reduce the Mets’ liability, so these signings are generally at the league minimum. The Mets took advantage of this rule, for example, when they signedGary Sheffield.

More likely, the Mets will put Harvey on waivers. That means that all teams will be informed that Harvey is available and be able to “claim” him for themselves. If multiple teams claim him, the team with the worst record will have priority. The Mets could just let a team claim him, or they could try to work out a trade with one of the teams that shows interest. They could also, on seeing interest in Harvey, revoke the waivers and put him back on the 40-man roster.

If Harvey clears waivers (meaning no team claims him), the Mets then have the ability to send Harvey to the minors. This is called “outrighting” him, for “sending him outright to the minors,” and can only happen to a player once in his career without his consent.

Wow. So what will happen? The Mets won’t likely release Harvey right away. That precludes the chance to arrange a trade and get something out of this situation.

There won’t likely be much trading interest in Harvey. He’s had a difficult year. After returning from injury in September of last year, he put up an 11.28 ERA in 22 1/3 innings across 5 starts. (Really, it was 6, since his game in relief was simply piggybacking on a well-publicized one-inning start by Noah Syndergaard.) There was hope he’d come back in better condition this year, but his first four starts came out to a 6.00 ERA with opponents slashing .302/.337/.512. After his 0-2 start, he was moved to the bullpen against his will. In relief, he’s made four appearances spanning 6 innings and put up a 10.50 ERA with an opposing slash of .304/.414/.696. That’s with a luckier-than-average .263 BAbip, too. It’s possible some team would like to have Harvey, but he’s more likely to end up being sent to the minors.

Harvey hasn’t handled the trip to the bullpen very well, so it’s likely he won’t handle Vegas well, either. He may end up staying in Vegas, or the Mets may find a trade partner. Best case scenario, he sees this as a chance to get his act together and takes advantage of 51s pitching coach Glenn Abbott. Alternatively, he may end up playing for the Long Island Ducks with former Mets Francisco Rodriguez and Jordany Valdespin.

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Free at last! (Mets Game 16 Preview) April 23, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Matt Harvey finally notched his first win of the year, going 5 innings with 7 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk (to Nick Markakis), and 5 strikeouts. That walk came in the fifth inning, when Harvey has traditionally labored; fortunately, a dead-on throw from Yoenis Cespedes to Travis d’Arnaud kept A.J. Pierzynski from bringing Markakis home to end the fifth and get Harvey through the minimum.

Freddie Freeman. Photo: Bruce Tuten via Wikimedia Commons

Freddie Freeman. Photo: Bruce Tuten via Wikimedia Commons

Cespedes extended his streak of extra-base hits to 7; over those 7 games, he’s hitting .345/.406/.931 with a .400 batting average on balls in play. In the first 8 games of the season, he hit .233/.324/.333 with a .333 BAbip. The Mets were 3-5 during those first 8 games and 5-2 during Cespedes’ streak. Yo left the game after an extended rain delay due to aggravating his leg injury sliding into second for last night’s double; Juan Lagares may make the start in center tonight. Ces has never faced Braves pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, but Lagares is 2-6 lifetime against him with a double.

Curtis Granderson hit two home runs including one grand slam, along with a single, for 9 total bases and 5 RBIs. One of those RBIs came when Harvey made it to first on a throwing error by the pitcher, trying to force Asdrubal Cabrera out at third. On this road trip, Granderson is hitting .353/.476/.941 on a close-to-league-average .300 BAbip. Granderson is 1-2 with a walk against Chacin. Neil Walker is .333/.333/.556 against Chacin in 9 plate appearances.

Freddie Freeman extended his lifetime hitless streak against Matt Harvey to 9 plate appearances with a pop foul, a flyout, and a swinging K. Freeman hasn’t hit well this year (.167/.318/.241, compared to last year’s .276/.370/.471), but he’s been fairly good against current Mets: he has an OPS above 1 against 5 Mets pitchers, including starter Steven Matz(1-3, walk), relievers Addison Reed (1-2) and Jerry Blevins (3-7), and closer Jeurys Familia (5-11, walk, 2 home runs). Freeman hit .246/.317/.509 in his first 15 games last year, so his OBP isn’t too big a surprise – it’s really the last of extra-base hits that’s causing the Braves trouble.

Steven Matz is largely unproven against the Braves. His only previous start against Atlanta was in September of last year, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks for 1 run. Current Braves have hit him reasonably well, so it will be good to see whether Matz continues what he started last time out or whether he looks more like his first start against Miami.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Daniel Castro 3 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 .667 .667 1.667 2.333
Freddie Freeman 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Adonis Garcia 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Nick Markakis 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667
Matt Wisler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 14 13 5 0 0 1 1 1 1 .385 .429 .615 1.044
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/23/2016.

Off to Atlanta (Mets Game 15 Preview) April 22, 2016

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Matt Harvey in 2012. Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

Matt Harvey in 2012. Photo: slgckgc on Flickr

The Mets will start Matt Harvey tonight against the Braves’ Bud Norris.

The Mets have hit Norris at a .257/.382/.392 clip since 2009. The results have been mixed: though Neil Walker has smacked Norris around for .391/.517/.565 in 29 plate appearances, David Wright has hit .091/.333/.091 in 15. (Note, though, that those 15 include 3 walks and a hit by pitch, so Wright still manages to get on base regularly.) Lucas Duda is 1-3 (double) with a walk; Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki are each 1-3. In 11 plate appearances, Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .300 with a home run and a walk against Norris. Cespedes has hit homers in the last two games and four of the last 6; the Cespedes/Walker combination is likely to be dangerous. Norris gave up 4 earned runs including 2 homers to the Marlins last weekend; it’s imperative the Mets are aggressive with him early on to knock him out of the game, as the 4-11 Braves had 5 blown saves in 8 save opportunities.

Meanwhile, this game may be an opportunity for Harvey to get his season on track. In 26 plate appearances, current Braves have hit .080/.115/.120 against Harvey; Jace Peterson and former Mets backup infielder Kelly Johnson are both 1-3 against Harvey, but Harvey has held Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman hitless in 6 plate appearances. Good defense is key, since Harvey seems to get rattled when things don’t quite go his way. The Mets were 5-5 in Turner Field last year, outscoring the Braves 43-36. Three of those wins came from starters and two from the bullpen. In six of those games, the Mets scored 4 or more runs, and they lost only one; providing Harvey with more than his current 3.33 runs per game of support will go a long way toward allowing Harvey to do what he does well.

Put Down The Pitchforks! (Mets Game 1 Commentary) April 4, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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In last night’s 4-3 loss to the Royals, Matt Harvey consistently pitched better than Edinson Volquez. Volquez’ control wasn’t where he wanted it to be; it was clear he was laboring as early as the third or fourth inning. Harvey, meanwhile, was fairly stellar through 5. He gave up a single run in the first inning, one in the fourth, and then two in the sixth (one allowed by Bartolo Colon in relief).

Matt Harvey shows a noticeable uptick in batting stats after the fifth inning.

Matt Harvey shows a noticeable uptick in batting stats after the fifth inning.

The first run was produced by a combination of a Yoenis Cespedes error in left field and a Travis d’Arnaud passed ball which allowed Mike Moustakas to get on base and advance to third; an Eric Hosmer single brought Moustakas home. In 262 chances in left field in 2015, Cespedes made 5 errors (so he has an error rate of around .019). d’Arnaud had 1 passed ball in 845 plate appearances with a runner in position to steal (a rate of .001). The confluence of those two events is extremely low-probability, and really wasn’t Harvey’s problem. (That’s leaving aside some difficult defense allowing Hosmer’s single.)

Harvey’s control was good – he walked Lorenzo Cain twice, but also struck out two. In 21 at-bats, Harvey allowed 8 hits, for a BAbip of about .380. His second and third innings were perfect; his fourth and sixth innings were plagued by smart, scrappy play from the Royals. When given any opportunity, Kansas City converted it.

Harvey, though, does have visible difficulty when he gets into the late game. Keep in mind, he’s still young and spent last year recovering from Tommy John surgery; however, the line graph above shows four statistics that measure Harvey’s effectiveness, all of which show an upward jump in the sixth. Although his BAbip was lower in the fourth, we’d expect that to be relatively stable; it rises above .300 in the fifth and stays there. There is a drop in the seventh and eighth (and his sole ninth inning appearance was strong), but that presents an endogeneity problem – he stays in when he’s pitching well, but he almost always enters the sixth inning (26 appearances in 29 starts). Similarly, opponents seem to “figure out” Harvey as the game progresses: his OBP and SLG allowed rise sharply after the second appearance:

Harvey's opponent "figure him out."

Harvey’s opponent “figure him out.”

Harvey didn’t have a “bad” game. He was left out longer than he should have been for confidence-related reasons, and he got a little unlucky. So stop playing the Family Guy clip, stop making urine-related jokes, and support the team.