9:49 am Aug. 30, 2012
The Mets weren't sure about bringing Matt Harvey to the major leagues, just a few weeks ago.
Decision-makers went to watch him pitch in Buffalo, and came away with the feeling that he wasn't quite ready. It was only the failure of Miguel Batista to pitch competently that forced the Mets to see what Harvey could give them.
So far, he's given then more than they could have hoped for.
Harvey pitched another 6 1/3 strong innings in a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, doing so this time without his best command.
Harvey walked the opposing pitcher, Tyler Cloyd, twice. He wasn't putting his pitches where he wanted to, particularly in the early innings. And it didn't really matter.
“I don’t want to talk about that one,” Harvey said following the game, talking about walking the pitcher. “That’s going to haunt me for at least a night, but that’s the last thing you want to do and definitely the down point of my night.”
Facing a Phillies lineup that included longtime Met-killers Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Harvey struck out six, then turned the ball over to the bullpen, which preserved his one-run victory.
“You look at their lineup, and I think every single one of them, almost, has been an All-Star,” Harvey said of the Phillies. “You definitely look at it from the outside wanting to do well.”
Note the phrase "has been" in Harvey's quote; all three are certainly on the downside of their careers. Howard and Utley have fought injuries all season, while Rollins has settled into a post-peak that includes offensive production below league average.
Harvey, however, has probably been the most valuable rookie pitcher in the National League making his 2012 debut*, which is saying something, given that he's only been around for seven starts. He's walking just about as many hitters in the major leagues as he did in Triple-A, but he's actually increased his strikeout rate by more than a strikeout per inning.
Only an injury or an act of God will keep the Mets from starting Matt Harvey on his regular turns until he hits his 2012 innings limit in a few weeks, and then starting him again, from the top, in 2013.
*CORRECTION: The original version said he was probably the most valuable rookie in the league, rather than just the most valuable of the rookies making his 2012 debut.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Yankees lost to the Blue Jays, 8-5, and will enter a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles this weekend leading them by just 3.5 games.
The Yankee radio broadcasts will stay on WCBS-AM.
A late Wilman Conde strike helped the Red Bulls to a 2-2 draw with D.C. United.
Hakeen Nicks returned in time to help the Giants beat the Patriots in their final preseason game, 6-3.
Final decisions on the roster will be made following Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles.
The Nets are looking into signing Eddy Curry, who you might remember from the end of the Knicks' bench.