Matt Harvey possesses the qualities of a superstar pitcher. He can strike out his opponents with an upper-90 mph fastball as well as a changeup or slider. He seldom folds under pressure and has already proven himself against formidable teams, such as the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies.
The best part is that he is only 24 years old and just beginning his first full Major League season. Harvey won NL Pitcher of the Month for April, averaging nearly eight strikeouts per game.
On May 7 he delivered one of the best pitching performances ever by a Mets starter in a regular season, yet he did not win the game. He tossed a one-hit shutout with no walks over nine innings against the Chicago White Sox and left the mound with a no decision.
Harvey could have won if manager Terry Collins kept him past the ninth inning. Collins allowed Johan Santana to toss 134 pitches in his no-hitter last June, and Matt Harvey was only 105 deep against the Chicago White Sox.
Collins had reason to be cautious about his young rising star, but Harvey is a workhorse. Santana was 33 years old and returning from major shoulder surgery. The offense supported Santana with eight runs in his no-hitter, but Harvey could have cut the tension of his 0-0 pitching duel with a knife. Yet he was just as sharp in the ninth inning as he was in the first inning.
Matt Harvey is Cy Young Award caliber; he made a game in which the Mets took ten innings to score a run interesting. The Mets offense makes opposing starters look like multiple-time Cy Young recipients.
The Mets are yet to lose any of the seven games in which Harvey pitched. It is astonishing that despite only allowing seven runs over his seven starts with a 1.28 ERA, he only has four wins as a pitcher. The Mets are 7-0 with Harvey and 6-17 with the rest of the starters.
Jeremy Hefner has tossed 14 1/3 fewer innings and allowed eleven more runs than Harvey in his first seven starts, and still does not have a win. Jonathon Niese, who Collins considered to be the ace at the beginning of the season, has a 4.66 ERA.
The games are painful to watch when Harvey is not on the mound. Hefner pitched eight inning scoreless innings on April 30 against the Miami Marlins but suffered a loss. Mets reliever Brandon Lyon allowed both of the Marlins runners Hefner was responsible for in the ninth inning to score, and since the Mets only scored one run the Marlins won on a walk-off.
Ike Davis has become useless to the point that Collins replaced him with pinch-hitter Justin Turner on May 5 against the Atlanta Braves with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. That move was inconceivable during the second half of last season, but Turner has been more clutch off the bench than Davis all season.
The Mets have already sent several players down to the minors just six weeks into the season, including relievers Josh Edgin and Jeurys Familia (who is now back on the Major League Roster) and outfielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Colin Cowgill. Former Mets starter Aaron Laffey pitched 10 horrendous innings to a 7.20 ERA and was designated for assignment on April 21.
The Mets called up minor league outfielder Andrew Brown, who did not make the big league roster out of Spring Training, on May 3. Collins is desperate for offense, and in turn the outfield has been a revolving door. He plays Yahtzee with his lineup everyday.
Fans should take pride in a lineup almost exclusively cultivated from the minor league farm system, but most of those seeds show no signs of blossoming. Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada have not yet established themselves. John Buck, the offensive juggernaut earlier this season acquired via trade, has not gotten a hit in his last 14 at-bats. The rest are bench players.
The team should switch its name to the New York Harveys, because he is the only reason to be excited right now. David Wright has been solid, but nothing extraordinary considering his 8-year, $138 million contract. The state of the team is reminiscent of R.A. Dickey last season, now on the Toronto Blue Jays. Hopefully Harvey is here to stay, no one on the Mets would want any part of him.