There was a little bit of history this afternoon, as MLB’s new expanded instant replay made its debut in a game between the Blue Jays and Twins.
We saw it in the bottom of the sixth inning after Twins outfielder Chris Rahl was called safe at first base when a throw from Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki pulled Jared Goedert off the bag. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons challenged the call, which was eventually upheld. The whole process took an estimated two minutes and 34 seconds.
Check out the video below:
It should be said that this isn’t exactly how things will go during the season. In the Twins-Blue Jays game, there was a video truck outside the stadium with an umpire on duty to review calls. During the season, there will be a challenge umpire at the MLBAM office in New York.
Expanded instant replay was used again later in the very same game, but this time it was initiated by the umpires, which is allowed after the seventh inning under the new system. The original call, that Twins pinch-hitter Doug Bernier beat out a grounder for an infield hit, was also upheld. We also saw replay used this afternoon in a Cactus League game between the Angels and Diamondbacks. Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged a call after Luis Jimenez was called out at second base after a botched hit-and-run play. However, the umpire’s original call was also confirmed. Paul Hagan of MLB.com reports that the wait was around two minutes and 31 seconds.
So far, so good.
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.