New York Mets

Scott Boras innings mandate be damned, the New York Mets clinch their first NL East title since 2006 behind the efforts of Matt Harvey.

By Bryan Pol

New York Met fans, disgruntled by the stir ace Matt Harvey and super agent Scott Boras caused over an alleged innings cap, would likely credit the efforts of Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson for their team clinching the National League East divisional title, thanks in part to the charge their power put into a convincing 10-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Regardless of how said supporters feel about their ace, a reputed bulldog who scoffed over Terry Collins’s suggestion of a six-man rotation, Matt Harvey sealed the deal for his club on Saturday, hurling a quality start in the process:  over six and two-thirds innings, Harvey allowed two runs, nine hits, and no walks, striking out six en route to his 13th win, the most important of the right-hander’s young career thus far.

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Foregoing his much-maligned innings limit, Harvey threw 97 pitches over 6 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 77 pitches he threw in five innings last Sunday night, an embarrassing 11-1 loss to the crosstown Yankees, lost at the hands of a band of castoff relievers.

Clearly, this first start, thrown after the the brouhaha of his making some rather sorrowful headlines, was all the more magnified, as it came against the Yankees, who ended up beating the Mets two-out-of-three games in the series, prolonging the Mets’ chance to clinch the division for another harrowing day.

No matter:  Harvey made up for the controversy and then some, performing quite well for “the best day of his career.” At the end of the day, it is Harvey’s name in the winning column of the ledger, an accomplishment Met fans ought not soon forget.

For the time being, talks of Harvey’s free agency (not happening until 2018), his questionable stance as the Mets’ true ace, and a possible trade in the offseason (suggested almost immediately by ESPN’s Buster Olney) have all but dissipated. While the likes of Jacob deGrom faltered as September kicked into high gear, Harvey, not having pitched since 2013 in his recovery for Tommy John surgery, looked strong, if not dominant, for much of his 2015 campaign, pitching to a 13-7 record, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, buttressed by his second half numbers, where the ace has accrued a 5-1 record, a 2.34 ERA, a .199 BAA, and a 0.90 WHIP.                            

Harvey, hardly the recipient of sound run support and a collector of no decisions, is a player of star quality, an incredibly electrifying talent who is one of a few pitchers in all of baseball to garner a rabid, almost cult-like following (none can spot Greinke Day, Kershaw Day, or Arrieta Day t-shirts the way Harvey Day shirts flood Citi Field on the day’s of his starts).                            

The Met ace, upon clinching his club’s first divisional title since 2006, was ecstatic, stating, “This is the best day of my baseball career by far.  We’re here to stay, we’re here to do this more often. That’s what we’re about.”                            

In light of his possible start next Saturday, which could impede on the alleged innings cap, Harvey said through manager Terry Collins, “I need to get ready.  We’re going to win this thing and I got to be ready for the playoffs.”                      

By “winning this thing,” Harvey seems unsatisfied in only taking his team to an NL East title:  perhaps World Series glory, which the Mets have not enjoyed since 1986, is in store, with Harvey leading the way.                  

“Today couldn’t have played out any better. I couldn’t be more excited for us, for our team and where we’re going,” Harvey said, still celebrating the Mets’ victory that has them playing meaningful October baseball for the first time in nine years.

Should Harvey continue to forgo the innings cap, supposedly mandated by a team doctor, the Dark Knight will be on his way to baseball immortality in New York, especially if he factors mightily in what the Metropolitans accomplish in the way of some long sought-after hardware.

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I am an English teacher, music and film aficionado, husband, father of two delightful boys, writer, sports fanatic, former Long Islander, and follower of Christ. Based on my Long Island upbringing, I was groomed as a Yankees, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fan, and picked up Duke basketball, Notre Dame football, and Tottenham Hotspur football fandom along the way.