After an unbearably sluggish start to the 2016 MLB season, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey finally appears to be back in top form.
“This summer, it’ll happen again. What you heard last November, you will hear again this summer.”
That’s what New York Mets manager Terry Collins told Matt Harvey after his terrible performance against the Nationals last week that saw the pitcher deflecting boos from his home crowd, boosted his ERA to 6.08 on the season and left the world to wonder if the Dark Knight had hit rock bottom.
Collins told that to the once-ace during a season where the poor starts were accumulating at a swift rate, making them too hard to recall and tolerate.
He told the former All-Star Game starter those words recalling a time when the chants “Har-vey! Har-vey!” would rain down every fifth day, once labeled by the Mets Faithful as ‘Harvey Day.’
Monday’s Memorial Day matinee game between the Mets and Chicago White Sox served as a major reminder to us fans, and the player himself, that Matthew Edward Harvey can be a damn good pitcher, and one with an elite set of skills.
On Monday, everything seemed to magically appear once again, as if Space Jam’s Monstars had returned Harvey’s talent back to its rightful owner.
Matt Harvey’s fastball topped out at 99.2 mph yesterday, according to Brooks Baseball’s Pitch F/X tool. On the day, his four-seam fastball, averaged 96.5 mph; a number which lingered at the 94.0 mph mark on the season.
Still, it wasn’t just a plethora of blazing fastballs that assured New York their hero had returned for a moment, but it was the sustained velocity from pitch No. 1 all the way to his last, No. 87, which zipped to the plate while reading 98.0 mph on the radar gun.
The reassurance also comes from the fact that Harvey’s slider had a nasty bite.
The curveball? Located to perfection.
The changeup? Kept low in the zone, as if to make certain a phantom Daniel Murphy would be unable to sock it out of the park.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Harvey registered misses on 27% of swings against his fastball, striking White Sox players out four times on those throws. In his last three starts, his fastballs swing-and-miss rate was just 8%.
In addition, he recorded 10 outs with off-speed pitches; five with the changeup. In his previous five starts combined, Harvey notched just seven outs with the changeup.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 31, 2016
By game’s end, Harvey tossed seven shutout innings, the deepest he’s made it in a 2016 start. He was perfect through four, allowed one hit after six, and needed just 87 pitches before calling it a day.
Monday, the Mets did something they hadn’t been able too for the past two months: Ride the Dark Knight’s performance when the offense disappears for
a day weeks.
The moment Neil Walker crushed a tie-breaking solo shot to left in the 7th, staking the Mets to a 1-0 lead, you had a feeling – for the first time all year – that it was all the offense New York would need in order to grab a victory.
So, for now, Harvey is back. Whether he remains in this form – his true form – remains to be seen.
Monday’s demonstration could have simply been one great start. Then again, it could ignite a not-so-shocking stretch of usual dominance for the 27-year-old pitcher.
After the game, a humbled Harvey wisely remained cautiously aware of the gaping hole he’d dug himself into.
“I think it’s a first step,” he said, “Obviously, this won’t really mean anything unless I can continue this and what we’ve been working on.”