Check out my first article with SB Nation’s Jets blog, Gang Green Nation:
At West Virginia’s Pro-Day, Marty Mornhinweg became infatuated with quarterback Geno Smith. Low and behold, with the 39th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the New York Jets got their coordinator a new toy on offense.
When a quality start isn’t good enough for a pitcher making his 16th career start, you know you’ve got something special.
On Wednesday night that’s exactly what happened. Matt Harvey went 6 innings, allowed 4 hits, 1 walk and 3 earned runs while striking out 7.
Harvey’s thoughts on his start? “I sucked.”
How can you not like this guy? A quality start is exactly what it sounds like: it’s quality, it’s okay, but nothing more. Neither of these words describe Matt Harvey, nor does he want them to. You see certain pitchers with all of the talent in the world who will just go to the mound every 5 days and pitch. Not Harvey. His work ethic is unlike any other that I’ve seen in a pitcher this early in his career. He’s constantly striving to make himself better, watching film and making adjustments. Just one year ago, his change-up was considered to be his worst pitch, and look how quickly that has turned around. Harvey was once projected to be a pretty good #2 starter—at best—yet he’s taken his talent and out of sheer work and willpower has transformed himself into a clear cut ace at age 24.
Let’s look at the numbers. Through 5 starts this season, Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA. That’s pretty darn good by itself, but let’s go deeper. Matt Harvey is striking out 31% of batters he faces (39 K’s in 35 IP), walking only 7.9% and 84.9% of the base runners he’s allowed this season have not scored. In Harvey’s career, he’s held the opposition to a .172 batting average, while hitting .286 at the plate himself.
It’s easy for Mets fans to get excited about Matt Harvey, and they should. This is not the norm and people all around baseball, not just the Flushing Faithful, are taking notice. Curt Schilling, now a Baseball Tonight analyst, has said if he could start a franchise with any pitcher in baseball, it would be Harvey. Dan Plesac, former pitcher & MLB Network analyst, said Wednesday night that Harvey has a higher ceiling than Stephen Strasburg. Even David Price, the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays, has tweeted that Matt Harvey is his favorite pitcher (not on the Rays) to watch. That’s high praise, and I agree with all of it. Harvey is tied for the Major League lead in wins (4), 1st in WHIP (0.69), 2nd in average against (.122), 3rd in strikeouts, 8th in ERA (1.54). There’s something special when Harvey takes the mound. There’s a buzz, an electricity even, in the air when he pitches—one that we have rarely seen in Citi Field’s brief history.
I wasn’t around for Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan, nor was I able to watch Doc Gooden, so I can’t and won’t compare him to pitchers from 20 or more years ago. What I can do is say that this is one of the most exciting pitchers I’ve seen on the Mets in my lifetime—including Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana—and I can’t wait to see what he does next.