PHILADELPHIA -- When Matt Harvey walked off the mound in the fourth inning of the Mets' 6-2 loss Friday to the Phillies at Citzens Bank Park, he lugged one of the most unsightly ERAs in Mets history behind him. Giving up four runs to the Phillies in four innings, Harvey finished with a 6.70 ERA, highest in franchise history among pitchers who made at least 15 starts in a season.
Until this year, no Met had ever thrown 70 innings with an ERA that high. Harvey finished with 92 2/3 innings on his ledger, allowing 110 hits, striking out 67 and walking 44.
He took the loss Friday to drop his career record to 34-35.
"The positive is that this nightmare of a season is over for me," Harvey said.
It has been a sharp fall for Harvey, who successfully returned from Tommy John surgery in 2015, led the Mets to the World Series and has not been close to the same pitcher since. Last summer, Harvey underwent surgery to remove a rib, relieving symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. But the time off left his shoulder weak; he missed nearly half of this year rehabbing from a stress injury to the joint, eventually returning to go 1-4 with an 11.28 ERA in six outings down the stretch.
Although Harvey's velocity steadily creeped upward throughout September -- reaching 97 mph in his penultimate start -- scouts have cited a lack of late movement on his pitches. That, paired with command issues, has the Mets wondering if the right-hander is having trouble trusting his decision-making process on the mound.
"Throughout this process of coming back from thoracic outlet [surgery], it's just been curveball after curveball of different feelings, different strengths," Harvey said. "It was something that I tried to push through some uncomfortable pain, some weakness, and I think I just kind of put myself in a hole throughout that process."
Harvey has six months to figure out the answers. The Mets are near certain to tender him a contract this winter, employing him for what will likely be his final season in New York. Given the raw abilities that Harvey clearly still possesses, it is not outlandish to envision him serving as a mid-rotation starter behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets do not need him to be the National League Cy Young Award candidate he was in 2013; they simply need a healthy, reliable pitcher to start every fifth game.
Considering the Mets' lack of bona fide rotation depth, the team has little choice but to be optimistic about their former ace, who plans to spend much of his offseason working out at agent Scott Boras' facility in Newport Beach, Calif. The hope is that an offseason of resting and strengthening his shoulder will be enough to springboard Harvey closer to his old form.
"It's going to be there," manager Terry Collins said. "The paybacks next year are going to be fun for him."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.