After his incredible, but not unexpected performance last night, Matt Harvey‘s picture was splashed on websites everywhere: Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN. The MLB Network again salivated over him, and random pitchers throughout baseball tweeted their approval. On ESPN’s Sportscenter, they led with coverage of the Knicks and Pacers before segueing into nearly five minutes of Harvey coverage. Matt Harvey is officially a phenomenon, and I’m officially running out of superlatives for him.
As it’s been noted here, there, and everywhere, Harvey certainly saved his best bullets for when he reached the majors last year. No one who watched him in the minor leagues expected that he’d be a dominant big league starter. As surprising and fantastic as Harvey was last year, he’s flipped another switch this year and has become some combination of machine and comic book character.
If you head to ESPN.com right now, their poll asks if Matt Harvey is the early favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. The results? 65 percent of those who’ve voted believe he is. Fans in 47 out of 50 states believe he is (not sure what they’re smoking in Montana, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island). As of today, Harvey is both the favorite to win the Cy Young and the favorite to start the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Through seven starts (he’s 4-0), here are Harvey’s numbers:
In 49.1 innings pitched, Harvey has allowed 22 hits while walking 12 and striking out 58. He’s 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. His BAA is .133. He’s allowing a miniscule 4.0 hits per 9, while striking out 10.6 per 9. His strikeout to walk ratio is close to 5.
The ridiculous thing about Harvey, is that his incredible numbers are only a small part of the story. Yes, Harvey has an almost unreal four pitch arsenal that he’s been able to command masterfully. Beyond that, he possesses every quality scouts and fans alike look for in a pitcher. He’s the perfect size at 6′ 4″ and his delivery is effortless. It’s Harvey’s personality both on and off the mound, though, that stands out just as much as his blazing fastball and exploding slider.
He’s a 24 year old kid whose drive knows no bounds. When he’s on the mound he goes right after the hitters, and when he’s off the mound he goes after himself – somehow finding fault in nearly every one of his performances so he can use it as the impetus to improve his next time out. It’s been written before but I’ll write it again: Harvey’s pace and composure on the mound is incredible, as is his confidence and the way he can own both the team he’s facing and the ballpark he’s pitching in.
Expecting Harvey to keep up this pace seems insane, as it would result in him having one of the most dominant seasons in the history of baseball. While it does seem crazy, would anyone be completely shocked if he kept doing what he was doing?
I wasn’t born until after Tom Seaver‘s career with the Mets ended, and I’m too young to remember Dwight Gooden in his heyday. My earliest live memory of Gooden was going to Opening Day in 1993 as a nine year old, and watching him shut out Colorado. So, when people compare Harvey to Seaver or Gooden, all I have to go by are highlights and anecdotes.
Instead of continuing to compare Harvey to other pitchers past and present, he should start getting viewed just on his own merits. He’s certainly earned that. In the meantime, Mets fans and those who love baseball and can appreciate what Harvey is doing should sit back and enjoy the ride.