— New York Mets (@Mets) March 17, 2016
The question about who would start on opening day for the New York Mets has now been answered. It’ll be Matt Harvey.
By David Hong
Because of the depth and quality of the New York Mets starting rotation, one of the biggest questions entering the 2016 regular season surrounded who would start Opening Day.
You can’t go wrong with any of the three. All of them are under 30-years old, throw hard mid to upper 90’s fastball, have good secondary pitches that makes them a bonafide ace on any other team, and proved last October they can pitch and excel under the bright lights of postseason baseball.
It was a good problem for the Mets manager Terry Collins to have.
It took him awhile, but on Thursday morning the skipper finally made a decision on opening day.
He chose the “Dark Knight,” Matt Harvey as the team’s MLB Opening Day starter on Apr. 3 against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, who defeated his Mets in the Fall Classic last year.
For awhile Collins considered Harvey as the Opening Day starter, and on Thursday, the manager finally made it official, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
I believe this was the right move, starting the Dark Knight to begin the season even with proven commodities like deGrom, who had the best season in 2015, and Syndergaard, who may end up becoming the best pitcher out of this group in the future, both on the outside looking in.
Back in the 2013 season, in his first full year in the major leagues, Harvey had a season to remember. He went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and started the MLB All Star Game at Citi Field. He had star quality written on him and was projected by many to be the next Mets franchise player for years to come.
Of course, his 2013 season was cut short at the end of August when he had to be shut down for Tommy John surgery, but until that, he was leading the National League in strikeouts, and his hard fastball, secondary pitches, along with his competitive demeanor, already made him an ace pitcher on the elite level.
After missing all of 2014 with Tommy John, Harvey came back strong in 2015. He went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 199 strikeouts. This is very impressive considering he missed a year prior to that and usually it takes more than a season to come back strong from TJ. This was also done without throwing much of his slider, which was Harvey’s best secondary pitch, which makes his comeback season even more Amazin.
Even after surpassing his innings limit in September, Harvey still pitched and had a strong finish to the regular season and overall had a strong postseason too, propelling the Mets to the World Series. He deservedly won NL Comeback Player of the Year.
So with his proven past, along with his comeback 2015 season, which was better than most expected, Harvey deserves to start Opening Day.
This isn’t done to knock deGrom or Syndergaard. deGrom was the best Mets starter in 2015 and won three postseason games (all on the road). Syndergaard had an impressive rookie season and won two postseason games, including the Mets only World Series win in Game 3. Both of them are also competitive and show no fear just like Harvey.
However there’s a reason why Harvey was strongly talked about as an ace, superstar and an elite pitcher from 2013 and on. He has been here the longest out of this bunch and after pitching a full year removed from Tommy John, Harvey is projected to have an even bigger year. He will throw his slider more and as a result, Harvey could have a Cy Young year.
Not to mention the sour taste he experienced in Game 5 of the World Series, after not being able to finish off the Royals in the ninth inning in where, Harvey dominated Kansas City in the first eight innings, Matt will definitely be motivated on the mound on Opening Day vs the same team that best his Mets in the Fall Classic. So it’s good to see Harvey get that opportunity again.
After Opening Day on Apr. 3, the Mets have a day off before their next game vs the Royals on April 5 and then two more days off before their home opener on April 8. The good news of this odd schedule is Collins can still put one of his other starters as relievers in Opening Day and in the second game. Depending on how the manager uses them, all of the starters could be in tune to start the home opener at Citi Field.
As for the opening day start, it was good to hear that Harvey will get the nod. He deserves it.