“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”
Those were some of the last words spoken by Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece, The Dark Knight.
That quote might’ve been true of Matt Harvey, who quickly earned the nickname “The Dark Knight,” during a stellar 2013 campaign.
When Harvey burst on the scene in 2012 he showed potential. The then 23-year-old pitcher displayed incredible stuff in his debut in Arizona on July 26, 2012. He struck out 11 in five 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and no runs while earning his first major league victory.
He finished that year 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA, but his best was yet to come.
In 2013 he started 26 games before being shut down with the need for Tommy John surgery in late August. In those 26 games he was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts. He also started the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field.
After four straight losing seasons, in 2013 he truly was the hero New York City deserved, but still caught in a rebuilding stage, not the one the Mets needed right away.
He tried to be the one they needed on November 1, 2015.
After missing the 2014 season, Harvey picked up where he left off. Despite some off-field issues, he helped the Mets win the National League pennant in 2015 with a 13-8 record and 2.71 ERA.
He was back and better than ever…until that November night.
Down three games to one in the 2015 World Series, the Mets needed a win to keep their season alive.
After eight brilliant shutout innings from Harvey the logical move for former manager Terry Collins would’ve been to bring in the closer, Jeurys Familia.
But with a stubborn Harvey fighting to go back out there, and most of Citi Field’s record crowd behind him, Collins gave in.
What ensued was a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain and an RBI double from Eric Hosmer. Harvey’s night was done, and after losing the game in 12 innings, so was the Mets’ season.
Thus, began the decline of the Dark Knight.
In parts of three seasons since, Harvey has pitched in 44 games, starting 39 of them. In those games he’s pitched to a 9-19 record, an ERA just under six and the lowest strikeout rate of his career. He’s left baseball fans everywhere wondering what happened to the Dark Knight.
That said, when pitchers don’t throw as hard as they once did or lose the effectiveness of one of their breaking balls, they adjust.
Harvey never did.
He refused to alter his pitching style and refused to end his off-field shenanigans.
Running around with Swedish models, clubbing in New York until the early hours of the morning and showing up to practice late and hungover, and most recently, partying in Los Angeles the night before a game in San Diego.
While these are all things stars in New York have done before, Matt Harvey never faced the reality that he is no longer a star.
When the Mets approached Harvey today and informed him that they wanted to option him to the minor leagues, he refused.
The team designated him for assignment and now the once unthinkable has happened. Matt Harvey is no longer a New York Met.
Call it the quickest fall from grace you’ve seen, call it a troubled star who couldn’t handle the bright lights of this city, but I’ll call it what it is. The fall of the Dark Knight.