Matt Harvey was rained out of his start against the Miami Marlins tonight. Harvey will toe the rubber in tomorrow’s 1 p.m. game at Citi Field against the Marlins, the same team that hit Harvey hard on Sunday, June 2nd in Miami. Harvey’s numbers on June 2nd were not what we have come to expect from the right-hander. He pitched just 5 innings, allowing 10 hits and 4 earned runs, while striking out 5 and walking two. In his post-game comments, Harvey referenced his desire to get back out there against the Marlins, presumably to even the score with the Mets’ N.L. East competitors.
Harvey’s “struggles” have not been limited to last Sunday against Miami. His last 5 starts have been uneven. Here are the results of Harvey’s starts, dating back to May 12th.
June 2 vs. Miami, 5IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, Mets lost 11-6
May 28 vs. NYY, 8 IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, Mets won 2-1
May 22 vs. Cincinnati, 6.1IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, Mets lost 7-4
May 17 vs. Chicago, 7.1IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, Mets won 3-2
May 12 vs. Pittsburgh, 7IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, Mets lost 3-2
The numbers above would be welcomed by many major-league pitchers, but they’re not Harvey-esque, at least not by the standards that the hurler has set for himself. As fans, we treat Harvey’s starts as events, hoping for perfection. We cheer for type of perfection that Harvey almost delivered on May 7th against the White Sox, when he went 9 innings, allowing no runs on 1 infield hit.
Lately, we’ve seen that Harvey is fallible, even if only on occasion, and only in relative terms. This is a natural part of any pitcher’s maturation. Tom Seaver went through it, as did Nolan Ryan, and virtually every other successful pitcher. The key question is, where does Harvey go from here? It would be perfectly acceptable for him to continue to learn on the job, having some great starts, and some average ones. Maybe I should say, it would be perfectly acceptable to us. Matt Harvey has demonstrated over and over that he sets a very high bar for himself. He has used some self-directed derogatory terms to describe starts that seemed effective. To Matt Harvey, keeping his team in the game is not the goal, dominating the opponent is his objective.
With Harvey’s mental toughness, driven demeanor, and natural talent, I think it’s fair to expect him to use this brief period of inconsistency as a springboard to greater success. That success may begin tomorrow at Citi Field. The Marlins rattled Matt Harvey last Sunday. Harvey has mentally circled his next start against them as his shot at redemption. With all that the young right-hander has going for him, my guess is that he gets it.