For the past couple of weeks, the baseball world has focused on one number which could have huge implications on the Mets and their playoff chances. That number is 180, which for one reason or another has become what some believe is the upper limit of how many innings Harvey can pitch this season without risking his health.
The Mets are now working around that issue so that he can be available in some capacity for the playoffs, but regardless, Harvey is being monitored closely.
Everyone in baseball has seemingly offered their opinion on the matter, and today one of the pioneers of Tommy John surgery threw in his two cents. Chris Erskine of the Los Angeles Times asked the man himself, Tommy John, what he thinks about a strict innings limit.
"'The chances of Harvey getting hurt are less and less every time he throws,' he said, citing [Dr. Frank] Jobe's belief that the longer you go, the more reliable the tendon is. 'Just to say that Matt Harvey can only throw 175 innings is shortchanging the team, the fans, the players.'"
Clearly John doesn't agree with the idea that Harvey has to be shut down this season, and in fact seems to suggest that there shouldn't be any limit on what he can do at all.
Coincidentally, Jayson Stark penned an article about Harvey's workload, and questions why baseball still focuses on innings at all.
"What does 'innings pitched' mean? Innings can mean a lot of different things. A pitcher can have a very easy inning, where he throws 12 pitches. Or he can have a very difficult inning, where he's throwing 30 pitches an inning. So ... there really is nothing in our scientific literature to guide us, in terms of the difference between 150 innings and 180 innings, versus 230 innings. That's just not out there scientifically."
Stark goes on to define what a stressful inning is (30 pitches or more) and notes that Harvey has had just three of them all season. In terms of pitches per inning, "he has averaged just 14.8 ... Only seven qualifying starters in the whole sport average fewer than that".
In an age of advanced metrics and countless ways to measure performance, the way in which the baseball world evaluates pitchers workloads is incredibly archaic. As of this writing, Max Scherzer and Jeff Samardzija each have exactly 198 innings, but Samardzija has thrown 229 more pitches. It's a crucial difference that needs to be highlighted, as innings pitched doesn't tell the full story.