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Sunday, April 17, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: MATT HARVEY

Houston we have a problem.  Or should we say, New York and Matt Harvey's fantasy baseball owners, we have a problem.  Echoing some initial concerns we had over Harvey after his first start of the season, things have gotten downright scary when it comes to the Mets ace after his third dud in three starts to begin his 2016 season.  After Harvey struck out the side in the first inning Saturday versus the Cleveland Indians, Harvey proceeded to give up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in his final 4.1 innings which included just one more strikeout.  That brought Harvey's season totals to a very ugly 5.71 ERA and 1.56 WHIP to go along with just 9 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.  Harvey has been hit hard throughout and his K rate has tumbled terribly which brings to mind the whole 2015 controversy over his innings and the battle that took place between his agent Scott Boras and the Mets.  After Boras said publicly he wanted Harvey to be capped at only 180 frames in his first season coming back from Tommy John surgery, the agent's pitcher eventually went on to throw 189.1 innings in the regular season and another 34.2 in the postseason.  As a result it is easy to say that Harvey is dealing with a "bounce" season in his arm as the thinking goes that a young pitcher coming off such a high jump in innings finds their stuff a tad or two below its previous levels due to fatigue and wear and tear.  Harvey himself has said that he is simply struggling with mechanics but that is also code for the "bounce" as the latter often shows issues on the control front due to fatigue.  So with that said let's take a look at a few things.

The first is the K rate which right now through three starts is at a very poor 4.67 K/9. That is a horrific number and is especially so for a guy like Harvey who was at 9.64 in 2013 and 8.94 in 2015.  Again we could likely be dealing with a tired arm here for Harvey and for a guy who has had Tommy John, this is a sizable concern for his health going forward.  In addition, Harvey's BB/9 is a sky-high 3.63 which is way up from his 2015 number in that category of 1.76.  Now a .328 BABIP is on the unlucky side but Harvey's XFIP is still very high at 4.63.  Either way Harvey has been hit like never before and there is major cause for alarm here as more innings on his tired arm could just bring more issues to the table. 

If you are a Harvey owner, obviously you have to stick it out here with the Mets ace but you can maybe watch his matchups in the immediate future.  On the flip side, often we would advise trying to buy low on a struggling ace but Harvey is a different case due to his health and apparent trouble with the innings jump a year ago.  We are very leery of that issue and would more likely decide to pass due to the volatility Harvey is carrying with him this season. 

 

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