At the time – and even since – Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo was widely criticized for the handling of Strasburg. Now, as the Mets endure a public relations debacle as they try to figure out a way to get Harvey to pitch in the postseason, isn’t the most pertinent question: So, Mike, what do you think about Harvey’s situation?
“Matt’s a great pitcher, and I’ve got all the respect in the world for him and for Sandy Alderson and the Mets,” Rizzo said in an interview Tuesday, just hours Harvey took the mound to face his team. “But it’d be reckless for me to comment on Matt’s circumstances because I don’t know them. I knew Stephen’s situation. But every player is different. Every situation is different. Every rehab process is different. I can’t comment on a situation when I don’t have all the facts.”
What Rizzo can do is defend the way the Nationals handled Strasburg, who was shut down after 159 1/3 innings in 2012, when he went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts. In the three seasons since the shutdown, he is 30-26 with a 3.31 ERA – a span that includes a year in which he led the National League in strikeouts (2014) and another in which he has been beset by injuries that have affected both his performance and his ability to pitch (2015).
“We have our own protocols for rehab and Tommy John guys, rehab and injured players and rehab and young pitchers,” Rizzo said during a pregame question-and-answer session with reporters. “It’s an internal protocol that we’ve developed over the years of player development and we adhere to it and we think it’s been successful for us and will continue to do so. … We’re committed to the protocol that we have.”
The Mets, though, are trying something different – something that, potentially, would allow Harvey to pitch at least once in the playoffs and/or in the season’s final series against the Nationals should the division title still be at stake. Rizzo, while allowing for individual differences, said he would not alter his team’s system should the situation arise in the future.
“I think each individual player is different,” he said. “The protocol has to be adjusted. Each individual situation is different. The time in 2012 where we had the protocol in place for ‘Stras,’ that was the protocol we had. It was the same protocol we used for Jordan [Zimmermann] the year before, and I think it’s a protocol that works for us and that we will employ to this day.”