Justin Verlander IS NOT single-handedly carrying the Tigers into the playoffs

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Before I say what I’m gonna say, please understand: I do not think an MVP vote for Justin Verlander is silly. It is not an outrage. This is one of those years where there are multiple defensible choices and the arguments for some candidates I wouldn’t personally support are nonetheless totally valid.  Verlander may win the MVP and if he does it will not be a travesty.

That said, this sort of argument in his favor — offered by Mitch Albom in this case — doesn’t do much for me:

Let’s just focus on the word “valuable.” The “V” in MVP. That is what the award is supposed to signify, right? Not biggest bat, niftiest glove or flashiest numbers. Valuable? Is there any question that, if you took Verlander off this Tigers team, it would not be making the playoffs?

The Tigers lead the AL Central by 12.5 games. I don’t care what method of quantifying you prefer, including the old eyeball test: if you took Justin Verlander off this team and replaced him with a regular old starter, it is pretty damn certain that the Tigers make the playoffs.  Sure, they may still be in a mild fight with another team and, no, I wouldn’t give them much of a chance against the Rangers and Yankees of the world, but they’d be in the playoffs.

This isn’t some point of statistical analysis. It’s simply reflective of my anger that everyone wants to pretend that the presence of Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch, Victor Martinez and Jose Valverde means nothing.  To the contrary, that is a team, performing as it has this year, that fairly easily wins the AL Central.

Verlander is obviously having a fantastic season. And there’s a valid argument to be made that he’s the MVP. But it’s not because he’s single-handedly carrying Detroit into the playoffs. That’s simply not true.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.