A Dark Knight timeline: The rise and fall of Matt Harvey

ByESPN.com ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

With a move to the Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey's up-and-down stay in New York has officially come to an end. A a former first-round pick and All-Star starter, the ace's high points made him a superstar at Citi Field, while the many low points won't soon be forgetten in Queens, either. As Harvey's career begins a new chapter with the Reds, we examine the journey that has brought him to this crossroads.

2010: Harvey becomes a Met

A coveted high school ace in Connecticut, Harvey opted to go the college route over signing out of high school, and for two seasons at North Carolina, it appeared the decision could cost him. But after a bounce-back junior campaign, the Mets selected the hard-throwing Tar Heel with the No. 7 overall pick in the star-studded 2010 draft (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard all joined him as early selections), and Harvey hype took off in New York.

Harvey made his minor league debut in 2011, racing from the Florida State League early in the season to his Mets debut midway through the 2012 campaign.

Career trend in five words:Best is yet to come.

2012: Harvey arrives in Queens

After starting the season in Triple-A, injuries and ineffectiveness in the Mets' rotation opened a spot for Harvey, who made his major league debut in Phoenix on July 26 against the Diamondbacks -- and turned heads from his very first start, when he recorded 11 strikeouts and collected two hits.

Harvey didn't slow down much from there, finishing his first season with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59 innings of work.

Career trend in five words: The sky is the limit.

2013: Harvey cements his stardom

The 2013 season was without a doubt Harvey's greatest hit. He turned promise into stardom and became known as the Dark Knight in New York and beyond, starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field and finishing fourth in the National League Cy Young voting.

But even the dominant season wasn't without its turbulence, as Harvey's career year on the mound ended early due to a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.

Career trend in five words: Dark Knight rules ... for now.

2014: Injury strikes

Harvey initially planned to rehab his elbow injury but ultimately decided to undergo Tommy John surgery in October 2013. Given how late in the 2013 season his injury was diagnosed, even if he'd had the surgery immediately he was likely to miss the entire 2014 season. The delay to consider his options guaranteed what already was almost unavoidable.

Career trend in five words: First bump in the road.

2015: The comeback season

Starting with six shutout innings and nine K's his first time back on the mound, it looked like the Harvey that Mets fans expected. He could still turn up the gas and throw heat at 95-96 mph regularly; his breaking stuff was sizzling, with his fastball and slider ranking top-20 in value on FanGraphs among pitches of their type. Teaming up with Jacob deGrom and rookie Syndergaard, Harvey and the Mets set a franchise record for strikeouts (1,337, since broken) and won the NL East by seven games.

The positive vibe all of that might have generated quickly turned when Harvey's agent, Scott Boras, expressed concern in September over his workload in his first season after surgery, suggesting Harvey throw no more than 180 innings and skip the postseason. Harvey lined up with his agent, prompting outrage from fans -- to which Harvey responded by announcing in The Players Tribune, "I will pitch in the playoffs."

Harvey beat the Dodgers in his start in the National League Division Series and the Cubs in his National League Championship Series start to help get the Mets to the World Series. Down 3-1 in the series to the Royals, Harvey insisted on pitching into the ninth inning in Game 5 in New York to protect a 2-0 lead. A leadoff walk scored on a double, Harvey left the game, Kansas City tied it then won in extras to take home the World Series trophy.

Career trend in five words: Inspired return gets bitter ending.

2016: The downward spiral begins

Nothing went right for Harvey from Opening Day onward, as his season began as the previous one had ended: seeing the Royals beat the Mets. His velocity was down, and he lost each of his first three starts. He notched double digits in strikeouts only once (and that was against the Padres) while reportedly battling mechanical problems. After failing to get through the fourth inning in back-to-back starts, he went onto the disabled list July 6 because of shoulder pain and numbness in his fingers. Diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey opted for season-ending surgery; few pitchers are the same afterward.

Career trend in five words:Things can't get worse ... right?

2017: Rock bottom

The season started out well enough to make you think the Dark Knight was going to turn things around. He rattled off four strong starts to open 2017; it wasn't with the same dominance -- he'd lost another tick off his fastball -- but he was healthy and getting outs. That good vibe barely survived April, as he started to struggle at the same time as he drew a three-game suspension for failing to show up to the ballpark for the Mets' game the night before his scheduled start.

After serving his suspension, Harvey struggled through seven starts before going on the disabled list yet again, in June, for a stress fracture to his scapula. He came back to pitch in September, but so badly you might wish he hadn't, allowing 58 baserunners and 28 runs in 22 innings for an 11.28 ERA.

Career trend in five words:Well, things actually got worse.

2018: A career crossroads

A new manager. A new pitching coach. A fresh start for Harvey? There was optimism in Queens heading into the 2018 season, and Harvey's first start actually signified some hope when he pitched five scoreless innings against the Phillies -- but that hope would quickly fade. After three consecutive horrendous starts, Harvey moved to the bullpen for a short-lived stay as a reliever. Things hit their breaking point May 3, when Harvey gave up five runs in a blowout loss to the Braves, leading to the Mets trying to send him to the minors. With Harvey refusing the assignment, his stay in Queens came to an abrupt end, leading to Cincinnati's acquisition of the pitcher formerly known as the Dark Knight.

Will Harvey be able to turn it around as a Red, or is this how the story ends? We're about to find out.

Career trend in five words: Is this goodnight, Dark Knight?

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