I started writing this article in the 7th inning of today’s head-to-head match up between Tommy John brothers-in-arms Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey. The Mets had a 6-0 lead with one out. Alex Torres just sandwiched a strikeout of Dan Uggla between two 5-pitch walks, so he just got the hook from Terry Collins. But, that’s not really what we’re here to talk about, because with a Win Expectancy of 1.4% at this very moment for the Nats, it seems that the Mets have this one wrapped up. We’re here to celebrate the return of Matt Harvey.
Pitching in a game that matters for the first time in 20 months, Harvey answered the Bat Signal just as the collective memory of 2013 recalls. Harvey wasn’t touching 99 as often as he did in late Spring Training, but his high cheese was too tempting for Nats hitters to lay off of.
Bryce Harper, in particular, couldn’t help himself from taking huge, violent hacks at the up-and-in fastball, resulting in 3 swinging strikeouts against Harvey. The Dark Knight’s curveball was dropping through the zone like a live hand grenade that Washington batters flailed away from as well. Knees were buckled, for sure. What might have been the best indicator of his success moving forward is that Harvey actually didn’t have his best stuff until around the 3rd inning. In Harper’s second at-bat, Harvey threw him a middle-in 94 mph fastball that should’ve been called a strike, but wasn’t. He kept his composure and harnessed his control and velocity as he went along, which is even cooler, because he was on a ‘soft’ pitch limit of around 90-95 pitches. He left after throwing his 91st pitch, 63 of which went for strikes! In six innings of work – and 23 batters faced – Harvey struck out 9, while walking only 1. That left his K:BB ratio looking like a gymnastics score.
This marked the second head-to-head matchup between Harvey and Stephen Strasburg, with Harvey again showing up Strasburg. Unfortunately, with this game being played in DC, there weren’t enough Mets fans to be heard on the broadcast cheering “Har-vey’s Bet-ter!”
Matt Harvey, not even on his best day, is a pure joy to watch. I’m so glad I traded for him in one of my keeper leagues this offseason. This just makes one salivate at the thought that we also get Jose Fernandez back in a couple of months!
*And since writing this article and submitting it, the Mets have hung on to win by the final score of 6-3. That means, for those of you scoring out there, folks, that you can write a ‘W’ next to Harvey’s name, in pen even, for the first of hopefully numerous times this season.