Friday, July 27, 2012

Stop! Harvey Time!

Matt Harvey made his major league debut for the Mets on Thursday and was showed why the Mets made him their first round draft pick in 2010.  In 5⅓ innings, Harvey allowed no runs and struck out 11 batters.  He also went 2-for-2 at the plate, with a double in his first major league at-bat followed by a single in his next plate appearance.  Let's put those numbers in perspective.

On April 13, 1967, Tom Seaver set the franchise record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in his major league debut when he struck out eight Pirates.  Seaver's record was tied three days later by Bill Denehy, who was more known as the player traded to the Washington Senators for manager Gil Hodges.  In the 45 years since Seaver and Denehy's eight-strikeout performances, no Met pitcher had ever struck out as many as eight batters in his major league debut.  No Met pitcher until Matt Harvey, that is, who shattered the record by three.

How rare is it for a Mets pitcher to strike out 11 or more batters while pitching fewer than six innings?  Prior to Harvey's performance on Thursday, it had only been accomplished twice before.  On July 30, 1986, Sid Fernandez struck out 11 batters in five innings of work.  Fernandez's feat was duplicated by a fellow lefty twenty years later, when Oliver Perez fanned 11 in his five-inning performance on September 12, 2006.  Harvey needed to record one more out than Fernandez or Perez did to record his 11 strikeouts, but still became only the third pitcher to come out of a game before the end of the sixth inning with as many as 11 strikeouts to his credit.

Taking that even further, both Fernandez and Perez allowed runs in their outings, while Harvey was unscored upon.  That makes Harvey the first pitcher in Mets history to fan as many as 11 batters in a game in which he pitched fewer than six innings and did not allow a run.  Tom Seaver did not accomplish that.  Neither did Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, David Cone or any of the other great pitchers in team history.  Matt Harvey stands alone in that regard.

Finally, in addition to his historical outing on the mound, Harvey proved he could handle the bat as well, collecting two hits in his two at-bats.  In doing so, he became the first pitcher in the modern era of baseball (since 1900) to record double-digit strikeouts and a two-hit game in his major league debut.  That's not the first pitcher in Mets history, but the first pitcher in BASEBALL HISTORY!

On Thursday night, Matt Harvey had one of the most remarkable debuts by a Mets pitcher in their 50-year history.  If he continues to pitch the way he did against the Diamondbacks, then it should be Harvey Time at Citi Field for many years to come.

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