NEW YORK — Matt Harvey, the brash, fireball pitcher who assumed superhero persona as he rose to prominence in Queens and then fell back into mortality amid injuries and controversy, announced his retirement from professional baseball on Friday.
“Goodbye, baseball. And thank you,” Harvey wrote on Instagram, captioning a longer missive in which he reminisces about his career and thanks his family, friends, fans and former teammates.
The Mets’ 2010 first-round pick, Harvey captivated New York three years later when he went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts, starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field and making frequent appearances on gossip pages. city tabloids. That summer he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside the title “The Dark Knight of Gotham”, spawning a nickname that would stick for the rest of his career.
“I was blessed to be surrounded by big names, but no one brought that extra attention or that charismatic Broadway-type performance aspect to the mound with them all five days like Matt did,” said said longtime Mets teammate David Wright on Friday. a telephone interview. “It was just not to be missed, you better tune in because something special might happen every five days.”
But Harvey’s story quickly became one of lost potential, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in August and missed the entire 2014 season, publicly arguing with team officials over the details of his rehab.
The following year, he returned to the mound and enjoyed renewed success as part of a wave of young pitchers that included Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, while fans and officials of the team were keeping a close eye on his innings total. . Initially reluctant to pitch in the playoffs, Harvey eventually relented and responded with the defining performance of his career: eight scoreless innings in Game 5 of the World Series against the Royals. But manager Terry Collins’ decision to leave it for the ninth – at Harvey’s request – resulted in two runs which led to the loss.
“I know it ended badly, but he pitched that ninth inning,” Matz said, looking back on Friday in St. Louis. “He was such a fun guy to watch and watch him compete. It started very well, and it really fed on what was happening in New York. It was fun for me to come up and see him do that.
Looking back, that night was the highlight of Harvey’s career. His 2016 campaign ended up being a shell of what had gone before, and it was revealed in mid-summer that he needed surgery to remove a rib and ease the symptoms of the thoracic outlet syndrome. Harvey never really recovered. Amid sluggish speed, he produced a 6.70 ERA the following season and was traded in 2018 to Cincinnati, where he began the process of bouncing back to five teams in four seasons.
In Anaheim, Harvey was embroiled in controversy after Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of an accidental overdose in 2019. Harvey said he supplied Skaggs with drugs while the two were teammates. His testimony came during the trial of Eric Kay, a former Angels employee who was ultimately convicted of giving Skaggs the oxycodone that led to his death. MLB suspended Harvey for 60 games in 2022 for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
In 2021, Harvey returned to Citi Field for the first time as an opponent and received several standing ovations. He pitched in Baltimore’s minor league system in 2022 but did not return to the majors, becoming a free agent last November.
Harvey’s last act in high-level competition was pitching for Team Italy at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. There he was successful enough to entertain thoughts of returning, but two months later Later, Harvey announced his retirement.
He finished his big league career with a 50-66 record, 4.42 ERA and 867 strikeouts in 966 1/3 innings.
“To the fans, especially the NY Mets fans: you made a dream come true for me,” Harvey wrote on Instagram. “A dream that I never believed to be true. Who would have thought that a kid from Mystic, CT would be able to play in the greatest city in the world, his hometown. You are forever in my heart.