Saturday, April 25, 2015

With A Win Today, Matt Harvey Makes Mets History

Could Matt Harvey be staring down another Mets record?  (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Matt Harvey is already considered to be one of the better pitchers in the league, despite owning just 15 major league victories in 39 starts entering this afternoon's game against the New York Yankees.  What makes Harvey so special is his ability to dominate a game.  Hitters rarely touch him, as evidenced by their .210 batting average against him and his lifetime 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings against them.  But another thing that has endeared him to Mets fans has been his ability to start each season with "W" after "W".

In 2013, his first full season in the majors, Harvey was the winning pitcher in each of his first four starts.  In doing so, he became just the 11th pitcher in Mets history to start a season so perfectly, joining team legends such as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden.

Earlier this week, teammate Bartolo Colon became the 12th pitcher to join this celebrated club, as he notched his fourth win in his first four starts of the season in a 6-3 decision over the Atlanta Braves.  This afternoon, Harvey makes his fourth start since returning from Tommy John surgery, seeking to earn his fourth victory.  Should he earn the win, he'd once again have four wins in his first four starts - the second consecutive active season he would have turned the trick.  Would Harvey be the first Met to accomplish this rare early-season feat twice?

Let's take a look at all the Mets - past and present - who are on this special list.  The won-loss record in the chart below represents the number of wins each pitcher had in as many starts.  Pitchers with no-decisions sandwiched between their wins are not included on the chart.

Won-Loss Record
Frank Viola
Dwight Gooden
David Cone
Armando Reynoso
Pedro Martinez
Bob Shaw
Jerry Koosman
Tom Seaver
Jerry Koosman
Bob Ojeda
Mike Pelfrey
Matt Harvey
Bartolo Colon

Note:  In 1966, Bob Shaw began the season with the San Francisco Giants before he was purchased by the Mets in June.  He went on to earn a win in each of his first four starts following his move to New York.  Similarly, Bob Ojeda and David Cone began the 1986 and 1988 seasons, respectively, in the bullpen, but once they became starting pitchers, Ojeda won his first four starts and Cone won his first five.

Out of the dozen pitchers who earned a victory in each of his first four starts of a season, just five of them were able to continue their streaks into their fifth starts.  Three of the five (Viola, Gooden, Cone) parlayed their early season success into a 20-win season and one of them (Gooden) earned a Cy Young Award for his full season effort.

However, only one of the 12 hurlers was ever able to duplicate his four-wins-in-his-first-four-starts feat.  After beginning the 1968 campaign with a 4-0 record in his first quartet of starts, Jerry Koosman repeated the feat five years later, becoming the only Met to start the season with wins in each of his first four starts in multiple seasons.

Should Matt Harvey earn a win today against the Yankees, he would join Koosman as the only pitchers in Mets history to go 4-0 in their first four starts in more than one campaign.  But Koosman went five years between his first and second such seasons.  Harvey, who didn't pitch at all in 2014, would be accomplishing the feat for a second consecutive active season - something no other Met can claim.

Matt Harvey is already one of the most beloved and respected pitchers in recent Mets history.  And barring another career-threatening injury, he could become one of the most successful pitchers to ever put on a Mets uniform.  He has already had one season in which he did nothing but win over his first four starts.  He's now looking to become the second Mets pitcher to do it twice and the first to run the table in back-to-back active campaigns.

Don't be surprised if it's not the last time Matt Harvey etches his name in the Mets history books.

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