Matt Harvey is, Indeed, Better

Young Mets ace Matt Harvey lived up to the hype against Stephen Strasburg Friday night. (Getty Images)

Young Mets ace Matt Harvey lived up to the hype against Stephen Strasburg Friday night. (Getty Images)

What is it about young pitchers? Baseball fans enjoy watching stars of all kinds, of course, but most of all, and more and more, we enjoy watching young, homegrown stars, and young, homegrown star pitchers in particular. Maybe it’s because they’re so rare, the very few that reach their full potential, and grow into all the hopes we’ve placed on them. “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect,” goes the old baseball saying. Except that every once in a while, there is. And when that happens, or even just when you think it might be happening, you want to be there.

Several times now I’ve gone to a game just because Stephen Strasburg was pitching. This time I went because Matt Harvey was pitching as well. A fair number of Mets fans (at least by current Mets standards) did the same Friday night, including Doc Gooden, who has probably given some thought to excitement over young pitchers himself.

It took a little while to make out what the crowd at Citi Field was chanting in the 6th inning, with Strasburg on the mound. Were they in some way celebrating the news out of Boston? No, that would not be announced on the scoreboard for another inning. This was something else.

“HAR-VEY’S BET-TER!… HAR-VEY’S BET-TER!”

Whether or not this is true in general remains to be seen, but it was true on Friday, when Harvey and the Mets won 7-1 against one of the better teams and aces in the league. Strasburg did not pitch as badly as the final score suggests, though he threw too many pitches (of which not enough were strikes), and ran of gas in the sixth inning; he allowed four runs, two earned, and struck out six.

Harvey, meanwhile, had another excellent start, and his excellent starts are adding up. He has what’s often called an explosive fastball, one that repeatedly touched 99 mph Friday night while moving enough to provoke a menagerie of flailing swings from the Nationals. Most impressive of all was his seventh inning, when he seemed to be headed for trouble, if not disaster. What should have been a double play became an E-4 and a fielder’s choice, leaving the bases loaded, nobody out and a run already in. Terry Collins left his new ace in there — and Collins used that word after the game, “ace,” with what appeared to be only a fleeting moment of hesitation — and Harvey rewarded him by striking out Kurt Suzuki, popping up Roger Bernardina and inducing Denard Span to ground out.

“There’s gonna be a lot of years you’re gonna be talking about this guy,” said Collins afterwards, articulating the hope and expectation that, to fans, still feels almost too much like a jinx to say out loud. It’s hard even to type without caveats. If he… always assuming that… as long as…

Matt Harvey’s career is still very young. And so, yes, it is still a bit early to anoint him as the Mets’ savior, or as the next great ace. But, when you watch him pitch, there is no reason to think it won’t continue –– no red flags, no puzzling anomalies. He throws in the upper-90s, with movement, for strikes; he has a spectacular slider and an effective curve. He seems able to keep his focus and persevere through tense moments. As far as anyone can tell, it’s all there, all the ingredients for that rarest of baseball phenomenons, the young homegrown star pitcher.

Matt Harvey has a lot to live up to, and anything could happen – but, right now, he gives every indication of living up to all of it. He doesn’t actually need to be better than Strasburg for that to happen, but the fact that better than Strasburg is even on the table is a testament to how impressive he already is.

26 thoughts on “Matt Harvey is, Indeed, Better

  1. I was at Citi Field last night and it was electric. Matt Harvey proved in the 7th inning that he is a star.

  2. What’s interesting (and I do not know the background of very many players like I know his), Matt is one of the nicest young men you will ever meet, a product of his family and his high school and youth coaches.

    It is a pleasure to see a guy like this succeed.

  3. It’s not too early to anoint him the savior–we’re desperate and we haven’t had one for a long time. He’s got the goods and he’s got the maturity to succeed. He reminds me an awful lot of Doc–the composure, the cool, the confidence. If the devil is listening, I’ll trade my soul for 10 very good years of Matt Harvey. Let this be our guy!

  4. So if he becomes a superstar, can we give him a cool nickname?

    Harvey the Wonder Hamster isn’t taken. How awesome would it be to see a ballplayer with the nickname Harvey the Wonder Hamster?

  5. njjets, I’m going to TRY to be nice and then I’m going to pretend you didn’t mean these horrible words! A good friend of mine ran almost the whole race with a weighted backpack and shortly after the explosions he threw down his backpack and tried to help save lives. Marathon runners ran 26 miles and then ran to hospitals to donate blood! This was a horrific event, not to the fatality count that was 9/11 thank God! I don’t see Boston taking a bow.. I see Boston holding each other and remembering the victims and the heroes like the spectator who had both his legs blown off but woke up to positively identify the murderers of our marathon! Boston, Watertown, Cambridge, and many other police departments and FBI public service workers put their LIVES on the line to make sure no one else died! It is your right to say whatever you want in a public forum, but I think you should consider the lives effected and the people broken inside by this event before you post something so insensitive. Maybe next time you can still have your ignorant thoughts but resist the urge to post them publicly. Last thing.. Bostonians like myself broke down and cried, and drove to New York to help, and united as wounded Americans when 9/11 happened, please see how your comments are divisive and remember your humanity!

  6. I think the wonder hamster is a silly name..but if you say the wonder kid. or kid magic or even Mr. Marvelous or Kid Marvelous or Matt Marvelous. Those are great names to consider.

  7. I saw Harvey pitch his debut. From the first inning he filled me up with excitement throwing hard but pin point control. But more then that, he is poised and mostly patient. His baseball orra gives me that tingle in my heart, and bones that it has not felt this way for a long time. He also is determinded , motivated, and selfleader. Hopefully it will contimuue

  8. But the Mets are 1 -7 when Harvey And Niese not pitching despite good offense-thats terrible burden to carry for Harvey-maybe we shoulndnt have parted with Dicky -but then we wouldnt have had Buck who is hot with 20 RBIs-so it all comes around-buck up mets

  9. As Curt Schilling put it, it’s just more comfortable to watch Harvey pitch. He has more of a commanding presence on the mound as a result of his stable delivery. Strasburg won’t last more than ten seasons while Harvey will likely get better until he’s 28 or so, and go on to have a long, successful career.

  10. I think the Nats were way overhyped this year, they ran away in the division last year because the NL east was the division of Choke:
    -The Phillies were picked to win it all coming off a 102 game winning season and finished 500.
    -The Mets had the Cy young winner in the NL last year and finished under 500.
    -The Braves choked early again in the playoffs, which now seems routine.
    _the traveling circus Marlins spent more on the team last year than any year ever only to chop it all up and tank with one of the worst records in the MLB.
    -The Nats choked in a win or go home NLDS game five last year after having a 6-0 lead.
    Strasburg was not even their best pitcher last year when they benched him. Sure he has talent and sure he is young, but he is no Verlander and probably never will be. The nats as a whole this season have played sloppy as hell and have a winning record against the marlins and the white sox.

  11. It will be fun watching him pitch against Kershaw sometime. Here’s hoping they match up a couple of times. (Of course since the #3,6,7, and 8 batters in the Dodger lineup so far this year have a worse average than the pitchers, maybe it won’t be such a test.)

  12. I wasn’t in **** Field (I won’t use that name, just a bunch of crooks) Friday, but I was in the big Shea in ’67, ’68, and ’69. Seaver had an even bigger burden in dragging a team to respectability. It didn’t slow him dow, although Met’s management eventually did. Here’s to Harvey outlasting the Wilpons. He does indeed look like the real thing. I’d call him the Hammer, and see if Hank complains.

  13. Harvey is very good but Strasburg is better. Strasburg is already as good as Kershaw and will soon be as good as Verlander. Strasburg has a legitimate chance at 300 K in a season. Over the course of a full season, Strasburg will walk 10-20 more batters than Verlander, give up a similar amount of HR in Verlander, but K 30-50 more than Verlander so it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say Strasburg is as good as Verlander. However, Verlander is more valuable because of the amount of innings he can throw compared to Strasburg, but if innings are held constant, they are similar in value. Harvey will probably will have similar HR and SO numbers to Verlander this season but will give up 25 -50 more walks

    • To compare the two and then talk about Verlander doesn’t really prove your point. While I think Harvey has better stuff so far this year it’s obviously way too early in either of their careers to say which is really better. Harvey is a better story this year as he’s not the biggest prospect in the game like Strasburg was but is definitely pitching like an overall number one pick. They both have a ton to prove before either of them can be great in the game.

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