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Bryce Harper sympathizes with struggling Mets pitcher Matt Harvey

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper sympathized with Mets pitcher Matt Harvey after the worst start of his career on Thursday

NEW YORK — Matt Harvey’s approval rating in New York has fallen to an alltime low.

The same dominant pitcher who brought fans to the ballpark just a few years ago to watch an uninspiring Mets team was booed off the mound following the worst start of his career on Thursday: a nine-run (six earned), eight-hit outing against the Nationals in just 2 2/3 innings that upped his season ERA to 5.77.

After all that Harvey has given New York, pitching over 216 innings fresh off surgery, Washington slugger Bryce Harper expected better of the fans in Flushing.

“I feel bad for him. He comes off the mound and gets booed, and he’s one of the best in baseball,” Harper said after the Nationals’ 9–1 win. “For what he did in the playoffs last year? To be able to come back and try to get through the playoffs? He’s one of the first guys to ever come back and go 0 to 200 [innings]. That’s tough. I think he’s got a great arm, and he’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Harper, who got his first hit off Harvey in 22 career at-bats on Thursday, is a friend of the Mets starter and a fellow Scott Boras client.

“Working out with him in the off-season, being around him and stuff, he works his tail off,” Harper said. “He’s one of the best in baseball and I respect the hell out of him. He’ll come back. It’s just part of the game.”

From his debut, to surgery, to announcing he would not pitch in the playoffs, to pitching in the playoffs and losing a World Series game in the ninth, Harvey has fallen in and out of favor with Mets fans countless times. But this is an entirely different animal. The Dark Knight has turned into the Dark Knightmare, causing manager Terry Collins to consider skipping his next start, which coincidentally happens to be in Washington against the Nationals next week.

While fans have grown uneasy, at least Harper, one of the game’s best, has full confidence that Harvey will return to form. Until he does, he’s going to continue to hear it for starts like Thursday’s.