Earlier this year I made the claim that Yu Darvish was the best
pitcher in the majors. I would like to retract that statement. Yu Darvish
IS the best pitcher in the American League, but there is no pitcher in the
majors that batters fear more right now than Matt Harvey. Harvey has dominated
hitters this season. He leads the league in strikeouts, WHIP and ERA. However,
there is one category that Harvey is lacking in – wins. Time and time again,
Harvey has thrown gems against opponents, only to have the Mets' atrocious
bullpen come into the game and blow it.
In his last 10 starts, Harvey has eight quality starts
(minimum of six innings pitched and at most three runs allowed). Most of the
time, this would equate to eight wins. If you figure in a blown save or two,
the fewest wins Harvey should have got in these starts is six. However, the
bullpen has been killing Harvey, and so in those eight quality starts Harvey is
3-1 with four no decisions.
In his last start, Harvey allowed only one run in seven
innings against the Washington Nationals. When he exited the game, the Mets
were winning 4-1. Then in came David Aardsma who put a man on base, followed by
Edgin who allowed a double to put two men in scoring position, all culminating
with Brandon Lyon walking a man to load the bases and then allowing a bases-clearing
double to Ryan Zimmerman. Just like that, Harvey went from winning pitcher to
yet again, another no decision. That game got even worse as closer Bobby
Parnell allowed two runs in the ninth, leading to a 6-4 Mets loss.
This has been the case all season. Matt Harvey starts the
game, dominates for six or seven innings, and then the bullpen ruins
everything. The entire month of May should have been a great month for Harvey,
but instead did basically nothing to his win-loss record. Going into the month
of May, Harvey had an ERA of 1.56. At no point during the entire month did
Harvey's ERA go above 2.00. However, Harvey had little to show for his five
stellar performances. Harvey went at least six innings in all five of those
starts, and only allowed three or more runs in one of them. Despite Cy Young
caliber outings, Harvey gained only one win in May.
As easy as it is to blame the bullpen, the poor offensive
production by the Mets is also at fault. Two starts stand out in particular. On
June 13th, Harvey recorded his only loss of the year. Harvey pitched
seven innings and allowed only one run, while striking out seven. However, the
Mets lackluster offense gave Harvey little backing, scoring only once, leading
to a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals. Now, let's go back to May 7th, a game
that truly broke my heart. Harvey had his best stuff that night. He threw nine
scoreless innings, almost had a perfect game but allowed one hit in the seventh
inning, and struck out 12 batters. However, the Mets did not score the entire
game. Going into extras, the game was tied 0-0. Finally, in the 10th
inning, the Mets got a man across the plate, resulting in a win – a win for
closer Bobby Parnell, not Matt Harvey.
Harvey started off the season red-hot, as he came out of the
gate with a 4-0 record in his first four starts. Following those four starts,
he received only one win and eight no decision in his next nine starts. There
is nothing more frustrating for a pitcher than pitching well and not seeing it
result in wins. Harvey has pitched near perfection all season long, but his
record does not show it. He has struck out at least 10 batters five times this
season, striking out as many as 13 in a game. He has more than five times as
many strikeouts as walks and almost twice as many strikeouts as hits allowed.
In 117 innings, Harvey has allowed only 26 runs. Batters are hitting only .184
on the season against Harvey. All of these numbers combined make for a great
pitcher, but the lack of wins is more disappointing than any of these
Tonight, Matt Harvey faces the Arizona Diamondbacks. It's 'Fireworks
Night' at Citi Field, a night that has seen the Mets play some remarkable baseball
in the past, including a ten-run
two-out rally in the eighth inning against the Braves back in 2000. I was
at that game, and I had never seen anything like it. I felt the stadium shaking
beneath my feet. Hopefully, something just as amazing happens tonight.
Harvey is the best pitcher in baseball – plain and simple.
For his sake, I really hope the Mets start producing when he is on the mound.
He deserves to start the All-Star Game, and if he continues pitching the way he
is, he deserves the Cy Young Award. I will be at the game tonight, watching
Harvey pitch in person for the first time. Hopefully tonight is full of even
more fireworks than just the ones in the parking lot.