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OC Register: Matt Harvey looking to bounce back, and learn from his mistakes, with the Angels


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TEMPE, Ariz. — In the almost 12 years in between when Matt Harvey expected to put on an Angels uniform and when he finally did, he experienced a lifetime of baseball lessons.

After Harvey turned down the Angels offer when they drafted him out of high school in 2007, he went on to the University of North Carolina and a career of highs, lows, injuries and back-page headlines with the New York Mets.

Still a month shy of his 30th birthday, Harvey reflected on the journey after the Angels’ first official workout of spring training on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t say I’m happy for the experiences I’ve gone through, but I think for the rest of my career it’ll better me as a teammate and a player,” Harvey said. “It will definitely help in my workouts and performance. In between starts, it’s definitely lit a fire under my rear end and made me strive to be better.”

As Harvey looked back on his Mets career, he now believes one of his issues was that he took his success for granted. From 2012 to 2015 — three seasons sandwiched around Tommy John surgery in 2014 — Harvey posted a 2.53 ERA over 65 starts.

“When things are going great, you kind of get comfortable,” Harvey said. “That year (2015) every start was like I was playing a video game. It’s probably what Jacob deGrom felt like last year. But you could do anything. I was throwing any pitch anywhere I wanted and it was start after start.”

After the rare bad starts, Harvey said he worked hard in the weight room to bounce back. He says now that he should have done that every after start.

“I wish I had gone back after good starts and gotten after it a little more,” he said.

It was a lesson that Harvey said he tried to impart to the young pitchers with the Cincinnati Reds after he was traded last season.

“I wish I had someone who told me that when I was 23 years old,” Harvey said. “Now, I can write a book of mine and say ‘Do more.’”

Harvey changed some of his workout routine last year and also moved further from his Tommy John surgery, and the results were enough to convince the Angels he was worth a one-year $11-million investment. Harvey had a 4.94 ERA over 155 innings with the Mets and Reds last season.

Looking beyond the numbers, the Angels are cautiously optimistic that Harvey can perform at a level approaching his peak.

Harvey expects it.

“My expectations are always going to be to the max,” he said. “From Day 1 in the big leagues, I wanted to be the best. That’s why I’m so hard on myself when I’m not. That’s how I got in trouble in the past. I couldn’t always be the best. But now that I’m healthy, that’s where I want to be.”

He also has the experience he feels can help him get there, something he lacked when he may not have handled things well as a young player.

“In 2013, I was up there with the best,” he said. “At that time, you think you are going to continue to be the best and not go through tough times. I thought I was going to be a Met my whole career and be happy with everything that happened. I’d play for 18 years and be a mentor for three. That’s very unlikely to happen. I wish I knew that going in, or had someone tell me that.”

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Harvey could be the one pitcher who could most impact the team's fortunes in 2019, because he could either continue as a decent #4 or be a borderline ace. No other starter has that kind of swing. I haven't looked closely at his peripherals and deeper numbers, but from a cursory glance there's room for a bit of cautious optimism, but not more than that. A return to 2015 is very unlikely.

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Good story.  

Harvey is the new Garrett Richards.  Tons of talent.  Oft injured.  Brain in the way.  

Harvey from 2015, Skaggs first 19 starts from last year before injury over a full season, Heaney 2018 with a little more luck and a few less hrs., Cahill 2018 plus another 50 innings, Jaime Barria and his era from last year plus another 30 innings.  

How many of these need to happen for the halos to make the playoffs?

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Is there really "tons of talent," though? His deeper numbers show true greatness in 2013, then he came back very good but slightly diminished in 2015. He struggled with injury in 2016 and 2017, but by 2017 looked like a different pitcher. Mostly healthy in 2018, he didn't look like the "tons of talent" of 2013/15.

I see a bit of Scott Kazmir. Harvey was better at his best than Kazmir ever was, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar rebound: meaning, he'll be good again but nothing like he was at his best.

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7 hours ago, Dochalo said:

Good story.  

Harvey is the new Garrett Richards.  Tons of talent.  Oft injured.  Brain in the way.  

Harvey from 2015, Skaggs first 19 starts from last year before injury over a full season, Heaney 2018 with a little more luck and a few less hrs., Cahill 2018 plus another 50 innings, Jaime Barria and his era from last year plus another 30 innings.  

How many of these need to happen for the halos to make the playoffs?

I'd rather have GR.

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