Sunday, June 2, 2013

There's Something About Miami

In 2011 and 2012, R.A. Dickey couldn't lose to the Marlins.  In nine starts against Florida/Miami, the knuckleballer went 8-0 (one no-decision) with a 1.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.  Dickey's knuckleball had the Fish gasping for air, flailing at everything he threw.

Last year, Dickey made six starts versus Miami, throwing 631 pitches in 45 innings, an average of 14.0 pitches per inning.  The year before, Dickey threw 312 pitches in 20 innings against the Marlins, an average of 15.6 pitches per inning.  So for a two-year stretch covering nine starts, Dickey only needed an average of 14.5 pitches per frame to set aside the Marlins.

When R.A. Dickey left New York for the free health care in Toronto, Matt Harvey was supposed to fill the void left by the veteran right-hander.  Harvey has indeed replaced Dickey as the dominant starter in the rotation, but he has yet to replace his dominance against the Marlins.  In fact, Harvey has been downright pedestrian versus Miami.

On April 29, Harvey was removed from the game after throwing 121 pitches at Marlins Park.  He allowed seven hits and two walks in just 5⅓ innings, his shortest outing of the year at the time.  Harvey took a no-decision in that game, a 4-3 loss.  It was the first time the Mets lost one of his starts in 2013.  As un-Harvey-like as that game was, today's game was even more surprising.

Fish usually stinks.  So does Matt Harvey when he faces the Marlins.

Harvey took the mound at Marlins Park today after a dominant performance against the Yankees at Citi Field on Tuesday.  But the Marlins jumped on Harvey quickly today, with bloopers and bleeders finding every hole imaginable.  They also worked the count as much as possible, causing Harvey to once again run up his pitch count very early in the game.

By the end of the fifth inning, Harvey had already thrown 100 pitches, allowing a career-high ten hits and walking two batters, causing manager Terry Collins to replace him earlier than he would have liked.  The bullpen was then asked to do what Harvey had trouble doing.  They failed miserably, allowing seven runs in three innings in a game the Mets eventually lost, 11-6.

That's two starts for Harvey against the Marlins this year.  That's also two no-decisions, two appearances where Harvey failed to complete six innings and two losses for the Mets.

R.A. Dickey threw fewer than 15 pitches per inning in two seasons' worth of starts versus the Marlins.  Matt Harvey has obviously not seen the film of those games.  In his two starts against Miami this year, Harvey has thrown 221 pitches in 10⅓ innings.  That's an average of 21.4 pitches per inning.  The more pitches seen by the Marlins, the more they got to study Harvey.  And with 17 hits and four walks in those 10⅓ innings, it's clear that Miami has passed the Harvey test.

There's something about the Marlins that brings out the worst in the Mets.  Why is that?  Is it because the Marlins are upset they served Mike Piazza to the Mets on a teal platter?  Is it because the Mets clinched their most recent division title by defeating them in 2006?  Or is it because of what this clever Studious Metsimus reader noted on Twitter?

Through his first 22 starts in the majors, Matt Harvey has been outstanding against almost every team he's faced.  Almost every team.  He's had his share of difficulties against the Marlins, a team that has had problems against every squad that doesn't wear a Mets uniform.

The Mets are 3-6 this year against a team that is otherwise 10-38.  And two of those six losses have come in games started by Matt Harvey.  There's something about Miami indeed.  And it smells very fishy to the Mets and their fans.

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