It was going well for Matt Harvey until it wasn't.
For the third time in as many starts, Harvey faltered late en route to a loss against the Indians on Saturday. This time, Harvey cruised through the first four innings, not allowing a baserunner, before his opponents got to him for five runs before the end of the sixth inning.
“Nobody right now is more frustrated than I am, not just today, but the last couple of starts,” said Harvey, who has allowed at least three runs in three straight starts for the first time in his career. “There’s a lot of things that went wrong.”
Harvey told reporters after the game that his arm and body feel fine. That, despite his velocity being down a tick -- he was still hitting 92-93 mph with his four-seam fastball, but the pitch usually resides closer to 95 mph -- during Saturday's outing.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested Harvey's mechanics when pitching out of the stretch could be to blame for some of his struggles, a theory that would make sense given his success through the early stages of Saturday's game. Warthen said Harvey is pressing right now, leading to some bad tendencies.
“You get into a pressure situation, you do fall back into bad habits,” Warthen said. “Essentially, that’s what happened today.”
That Harvey has pitched well in stretches is as promising as his 5.71 ERA and 1.56 WHIP are discouraging. Assuming he's telling the truth that he's not pitching compromised, better days should be ahead for the 27-year-old.
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No Closer To An A's Closer
If the A's have a closer, he doesn't know it.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin doesn't know it, either, as he continues to use Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in mix-and-match roles. On Saturday, Melvin called on Doolittle to get a big out in the eighth inning before handing the ball over to Madson in the ninth. Madson did the job, allowing an unearned run before slamming the door on the Royals.
Asked whether anything should be read into Saturday's usage, Melvin said no, not really.
"It just depends," Melvin said. "Today just because I used Doo last night I was going to limit his pitches. I wasn’t going to have him throw too much. We were going to extend (John Axford, who pitched 1 2/3 innings before Doolittle entered) more than anybody based on the fact he hadn’t pitched. And when that dynamic came up with Gordon in the eighth, we knew that Madson would be the ninth."
Both relievers are capable, and both have saved games this season. Historically, committee approaches give way to traditional setup and closer roles once one pitcher distinguishes himself. Which reliever that will be, and when he may separate himself from the other, is anyone's guess.
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Ryu Suffers Setback
The Dodgers' pitching woes seemingly never end.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent nearly a year ago, had a bullpen session scheduled for this weekend pushed back because of what Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called "a little bit of a groin strain."
It has been a long, winding road back for Ryu after the surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He was expected to be ready to pitch in Cactus League games this spring but was shut down in late February due to discomfort in the shoulder. Now, after throwing to hitters at the Dodgers' training complex in Arizona in recent weeks, including two 20-pitch simulated innings on Monday, Ryu is once again left without a timetable.
"I think the whole time we thought we were going to have him back sooner," Roberts said. "But then there was a setback in early, middle spring. Now this, technically, yeah, a setback. I don't know how severe the (groin) injury is.
"We need him back. But we need him back healthy. ... I was encouraged (at the end of spring training). But now we have to deal with this and hopefully he'll be back on the mound soon."
National League Quick Hits: Cuts on his pitching hand ended Shelby Miller's night prematurely, forcing his exit after 1 2/3 innings Saturday. It's unclear how the frustrating injury might affect his availability for his next start, but it doesn't sound like something that should plague him for long ... Devin Mesoraco (quad) returned to the Reds' lineup Saturday after missing the previous four games. The catcher went 1-for-4 with a run scored in a win over the Cardinals ... Travis d'Arnaud is day-to-day after leaving Saturday's game with a left elbow contusion. X-rays came back negative after the catcher was hit in the elbow with a fastball ... Nick Markakis stayed red hot Saturday, finishing 3-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored. Markakis has eight doubles and 12 RBI to date, numbers made even more impressive by the fact that he's playing in a bad Braves lineup ... Andrew McCutchen was among those to get on the home run board Saturday. Cutch hit his first dinger in a win over the Brewers ... Bryce Harper is not new to the home run club, as Saturday he bashed his fifth of the season. Harper is second in the NL in homers and first with 14 RBI ... Carl Crawford (back) will travel with the Dodgers to Atlanta before beginning a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City next week. Upon his return, Crawford will join a glut of outfielders fighting for playing time in Los Angeles ... Jake Arrieta: still good at baseball ... Jacob deGrom was placed on the family emergency leave list for an issue related to his newborn son. Thoughts go out to the deGrom family, with hope for good news in the days ahead.
American League Quick Hits: Felix Hernandez tied Mariners royalty Saturday, matching Randy Johnson's record for strikeouts as a member of the organization. King Felix and The Big Unit both have 2,162 strikeouts as Mariners pitchers, a distinction Hernandez should have all to himself after his next start ... Rays manager Kevin Cash has declared Logan Forsythe (hip, leg) ready to go on Sunday. Forsythe left Friday's game after colliding with teammate Kevin Kiermaier, but it seems Forsythe's injuries, at least, weren't serious. Kiermaier, who sustained a head contusion, is less of a sure thing for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox ... Josh Tomlin pitched very well but made an early exit Saturday due to a right hamstring cramp, leaving after 76 pitches in a win over the Mets. Tomlin held the Mets to one run over his five innings of work, striking out six before departing ... Tyler White continues to do his thing, ripping his fourth home run of the season against the Tigers ... David Price struck out nine over seven innings in a win over the Blue Jays.