What to Make of Matt Harvey’s Start for Team Italy Against Cuba

Team Italy won its first game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic against Cuba in Taiwan. And, a former MLB All-Star played a key role in the Italians’ victory. Matt Harvey returned to the big stage on Wednesday night in Taiwan, and proved that he still has some tricks up his sleeve.

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A Look at Harvey

Former Mets star Matt Harvey — who grandfather’s Italian heritage qualified the former All-Star for the WBC — pitched for Team Italy early Wednesday morning in the U.S., on arguably the biggest stage he’s been on since Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. While Harvey didn’t blow anyone away with his fastball — which sat in the high-80s — or his slider, he did generate weak contact against a formidable Cuba lineup that includes Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert Jr, and his former Mets teammate Yoenis Cespedes. Harvey didn’t record a strikeout, but did throw three scoreless innings.

The WBC could be looked upon as an audition for players who remain free agents. Harvey, a free agent himself, could parlay a strong Classic into another chance at the Majors.

Harvey didn’t pitch in the Majors last season, as he spent all of the year in the Orioles farm system. The 33-year-old righty also spent 60 games on the restricted list after being suspended for distributing oxycodine. That came out during the trial of former Angels employee Eric Kay, who was being investigated in the death of former pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Across three levels, Harvey went 8-1 with a 3.84 ERA over 13 starts, and struck out 63 over 70.2 IP.

What it Means

Look, it’s been a long time since Harvey has been “The Dark Knight.” And, it’s been about five years the last time Harvey found consistent footing on the mound. It’s hard to say that Harvey is back, although he did get outs with a diminished fastball and his slider.

It wouldn’t shock anyone if Harvey, a former 13 game winner in the Majors, latched on to a MLB team after the end of the World Baseball Classic. In fact, the 33-year-old does have the potential to be an interesting reliever option, should Harvey be asked to do just that. But, don’t expect the Harvey of old to return.

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