Last night the balls were flying out of Citi Field left and right in the annual Home Run Derby. Tonight is the big show, and it will be Matt Harvey‘s job to keep the ball in the park for the National League squad for the first few innings. While it’s only his second season in the Majors and his first full year, the young ace is ready to be on the big stage and lights of the All-Star Game.
During an April 19th game against the Washington Nationals, Matt Harvey faced off against another young gun in Stephen Strasburg. With his performance in the game, chants rang out in the crowd. “Harvey’s better! Harvey’s better!” reverberated throughout the Citi Field faithful that night as Harvey was impressive and Strasburg was far from it.
Since that game, Harvey has really caught the attention of the media and major television networks. Harvey has not only been compared to the likes of his peers, such as Strasburg, but also to all-time greats like Tom Seaver, who is the greatest pitcher to don the orange and blue in Flushing. That’s high praise for a guy who’s in only his fist full season in the big leagues. Dwight Gooden always watches Harvey’s starts and is always spotted tweeting about the Mets’ new ace. Tom Verducci wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated that describes how Harvey has the stuff to become baseball’s best pitcher.
With all of the attention and hype surrounding Harvey, one would think that he would falter in the spotlight. Since garnering all of the attention this year, Harvey has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball, seeming to thrive on all of the attention and hype.
He’s been on fringe of throwing a few no hitters, most notably in May against the White Sox. In one of the greatest games pitched by anyone this season, Harvey threw nine innings, only allowing one hit, that being one of the infield variety to Alex Rios. In those nine innings, Harvey incredibly struck out 12 hitters while walking none. Although he did not get his individual win thanks to a lack of Met hitting, Harvey absolutely shut down the White Sox that night.
His final start of the month was against the rival Yankees in the second game of the Subway Series. In a game featured on ESPN, Harvey matched up against the Yankees best pitcher this year in Huroki Kuroda. Although Harvey again did not get his win, he was incredible on an even bigger stage. In a game of New York bragging rights on the line, Harvey brought some of his best. While he did allow one run in his eight innings, he went on to strike out ten and walk no Yankee bats.
These starts are only a small sample of the great games Harvey has thrown this year. He has not only established himself as an ace, but a true big game pitcher, one who has the right mix of confidence and humbleness to be successful at the big league level.
While Harvey only has seven wins thus far, he’s fifth in Major League Baseball with a 2.35 ERA, third in strikeouts, second in WHIP, sixth in WAR, third in K/9, and is first in DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics).
His personality and pitching ability allows for a perfect combination on the hill. He has the stuff and mentality to continue to be successful in the future. While it will be a huge challenge to face Mike Trout, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera at the top of the order, Harvey has what it takes to compete against those elite hitters. Tonight has the potential to be a very memorable night for not only Harvey, but the Mets and their loyal fans.