Posted on June 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Mets received a double dose of bad news on Thursday. The team has announced that both second baseman Neil Walker and starting pitcher Matt Harvey will be out for several weeks. Walker has sustained an injury to his hamstring while an ailing shoulder will once again sideline Harvey. Both players left Wednesday’s win over the Cubs prematurely. The Mets will have sent four players to the injured list in the last three days.
Walker may be the bigger loss for the Mets. He’s been one of the team’s most productive hitters over the past six weeks. Walker has been diagnosed with a partial tear of his hamstring. He suffered the injury while running out what looked like a bunt base hit on Wednesday. The Mets have not put a firm timetable on the injury, only stating that he’ll miss several weeks. Based on how Walker pulled up on Wednesday and the initial diagnosis, it could be a rather lengthy absence.
Losing Walker comes on the heels of placing shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera on the DL for the second time this season earlier this week. The Mets are now without both starting middle infielders. Once again, the Mets have also declined to call up top prospect Amed Rosario. Instead, the club has promoted middle infielder Gavin Cecchini, who has posted disappointing numbers at triple-A this season.
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T.J. Rivera figures to step in at second base for Walker. Rivera typically hits when he gets regular playing time. However, he does not possess the kind of power that Walker does. Cecchini may also see time at second base.
As for Harvey, he’s been diagnosed with a stress injury to the scapula bone in his shoulder. He will rest and rehab the shoulder until he is pain-free, at which point he will begin a throwing program. Again, there’s no set timetable for his return; the Mets have simply said he will miss several weeks.
“It’s not a fracture, it’s not a bruise,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said of Harvey’s injury. “The bone can inflame. It’s sort of in that niche, between fracture and bruise.”
A move to the DL is not surprising after Harvey’s outing against the Cubs on Wednesday. The velocity on his fastball was down considerably, dropping as low as 87 mph. He lasted just four innings before the Mets took him out of the game amidst concerns about his health. On the season, Harvey is 4-3 with a 5.25 ERA.
Prior to Harvey’s injury, the Mets were using a 6-man rotation. It stands to reason that they will carry on with a 5-man rotation. The Mets have received a boost in the past week with the return of Seth Lugo and Steven Matz from the DL, giving the Mets six quality starters.
Of course, the Mets need to hope that the five remaining starters can stay healthy. Harvey seems unlikely to return anytime soon, and the same is true for ace Noah Syndergaard. The Mets announced Thursday that Syndergaard has been prescribed four more weeks of rest for a lat injury he suffered last month. Such a timeline likely means Syndergaard won’t be available until at least August.
Despite the flood of injuries in the past few days, the Mets have started to make up some ground in the NL East standings. The injury to Harvey may actually be helpful, as he had clearly become the weakest link in the rotation. However, the loss of Walker for an extended period of time is a huge blow to the Mets. He’s been an important player in the middle of their lineup all season. He will prove much harder to replace than Harvey, creating yet another obstacle for the Mets to overcome.