The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.
OK, I know it was only one game, but his performance last night was more than just your regular debut. Fans have been waiting for him to get called up and help out the Mets rotation since the day after Dillon Gee went down with his unfortunate injury. We all knew the future was going to be bright with both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler dominating in the minor leagues this season, but we just didn’t know when the future would start. Turns out, the future started last night in Arizona.
Before his debut, Terry Collins made it a point to tell Harvey not to try and be the “savior” for this struggling team. There is no need to try and do too much, and it is more important to stay within himself as a pitcher insteasd of trying to go above and beyond. Well, if this is the type of pitcher we can look forward to seeing for the foreseeable future, I can totally get used to it. In 5.1 shutout innings last
night, he only gave up 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 11 hitters. Those 11 K’s are a Mets franchise record for a MLB debut. Oh and by the way, he also registered his first two hits in the Big Leagues as well, which made this debut even more historic. Harvey is the first player since 1900 to strikeout more than 10 hitters and get two hits of his own in his first game in the Majors.
The Mets made a strategic move Wednesday to ensure that Harvey would be comfortable on the mound last night, as they recalled catcher Rob Johnson from Triple-A and sent down Mike Nickeas. Not only did Johnson hit .313 during his first tour with New York, but he created a great relationship with Harvey in Buffalo. So, that combined with the fact that they needed to do something different to get some runs on the board led to the roster move being made. Give credit to Johnson as well, who was able to keep Harvey focused on the task at hand, and kept him calm since he had a two-run lead before he even got out to the mound.
Not only did Harvey perform well last night, but it was how he went about his business that gets everyone excited. His pitches were electric, using his fastball to get ahead of hitters and then putting them away with his breaking ball. He had been criticized of late in Triple-A for the use of his curveball, but there was none of that last night. Like I said, this is only one game, but it means so much more to New York. Josh Thole said it best before the team jumped on the plane to Arizona yesterday; he said that playing like this at home was the worst possible thing, and they couldn’t wait to get out of Flushing, hoping that a change of scenery will help them get back to normal.
I wouldn’t say they’re back to normal, but Harvey was able to make Mets fans smile last night for the first time in a week. The anticipated debuts of him and Wheeler have fans just as excited as they were for Generation K back in the late ’90s. This start not only allows New York to break that six-game losing streak, but we can see a glimpse of the type of pitcher that will be occupying the Mets rotation for years to come, and can’t help but be excited about it.
Honorable Mentions: Before Harvey’s dominant performance last night, it was a tight race between both Jordany Valdespin and Daniel Murphy for POTW honors. Valdespin hit .368 this week with two homers, and he now holds sole possession of the club record for most pinch hit homers in a season, with five. He only needs two more to tie the Major League record. Murphy hit an insane .481 this week, including two four-hit games and three RBI, but both of those all came in the series against the Dodgers. Even though these performances were great, neither of them resulted in a win like Harvey’s last night.