Thursday, September 20, 2012

Matt Harvey Gives Us Hope; If Only His Teammates Could Give Him Runs

On Wednesday, Matt Harvey made his final start of the season for the Mets, pitching seven innings of one-hit ball.  The sole hit given up by Harvey was a home run to leadoff batter Jimmy Rollins that landed just above Scott Hairston’s glove before he had extended it completely over the right field fence.

(Who knows?  Had a right-handed pitcher started for the Phillies instead of southpaw Cole Hamels, Mike Baxter would have received the start in right field and might have made the home-run saving catch.  We could have been talking about another potential no-hitter being preserved by an outstanding catch by Baxter.)

A home run by David Wright gave Harvey a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, which the rookie protected by retiring the Phillies in order in the seventh, the last two batters via the strikeout.  But Harvey’s fourth win of the season cruelly turned into his second no-decision when Josh Edgin couldn’t throw strike three past Chase Utley and then couldn’t hit his target against Ryan Howard.  Unfortunately, Howard was able to hit his target, which was located in the front row of the Pepsi Porch.

Harvey had an outstanding two months for the Mets after his late July call-up.  In ten starts, the right-hander had a 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, striking out 70 batters in 59 innings.  Opposing batters had a difficult time against the rookie, hitting a mere .200 against him.  Of all Mets pitchers with at least ten starts in their rookie season, no one held opponents to a lower batting average than Harvey.  And only Jerry Koosman (2.08 ERA in 1968), Jim McAndrew (2.28 ERA in 1968), Jon Matlack (2.32 ERA in 1972) and Dwight Gooden (2.60 ERA in 1984) finished their initial campaigns with a lower ERA than Harvey’s 2.73.  (Tom Seaver finished his 1967 rookie season with a 2.76 ERA.)

Unfortunately, his success across the stat sheet didn’t translate into wins, as Harvey was only able to go 3-5 in his ten big league starts despite allowing three runs or less in all but one of them.  Last night’s 3-2 loss against the Phillies was a microcosm of what Harvey was subjected to during his two-month stay with the parent club.  After winning his first start against Arizona on July 26, Harvey could only muster two victories over his next nine starts.  His lack of ‘W’s can be attributed to the lack of run support given to him by his teammates.

In Harvey's ten starts, the Mets scored a total of 23 runs, an average of 2.3 runs per start.  Take out his 8-4 victory at Cincinnati on August 16 and the Mets scored 15 runs in his other nine starts, an average of 1.7 runs per start.  It’s hard for anyone to notch a win with that kind of run support.

Barring any setbacks, Matt Harvey should make the Opening Day roster in 2013.  His late season performance gives Mets fans hope that they will have a top-notch pitcher at the front of the rotation for years to come.  Whether he gets the wins to validate his status will depend on his teammates being able to push runs across the plate.

Matt Harvey came through for the Mets this year.  In 2013, it’ll be up to his teammates to come through for him.  They certainly didn’t this year.

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