If the San Francisco Giants do want to at least take a shot at contention in 2019, it would be a good idea to target low-risk high-reward players — Matt Harvey is just that.
He started his career by dominating the league from 2012 – 2015 (didn’t pitch in 2014 due to Tommy John surgery) to the tune of a 2.53 ERA/2.65 FIP over 65 games started and looked like a star in the making. However, then he has stunk it up in the three seasons since with a 5.39 ERA/4.76 FIP over another 68 games (63 starts).
Those recent stats would seem to indicate that Harvey will be lousy again for whoever signs him this offseason, right? Well, he’s a bit more interesting than those numbers would indicate.
For starters, his LOB% (percentage of runners left on base) is lower and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) against is higher than it was during his early career peak.
These changes could be partially attributed to a slightly lower fastball velocity and a somewhat higher hard hit percentage against him – but luck could also factor into it a degree.
Additionally, over particularly the past two seasons, his HR/FB% (Percentage of fly balls that go for home runs) nearly doubles early career rates – a statistic that may make AT&T Park an enviable place to rebound in.
Even with all the potential for a dud season out of Harvey, his talent is still tantalizing. His velocity is right where it’s always been, he’ll be entering his age-30 season, and will likely only require a one or two-year commitment.
If he doesn’t completely bomb, there’s a chance another team sees him as a good candidate to trade for too if the Giants decide to sell during the deadline.