Matt Harvey Performs Well in His Audition in Buffalo

By Matt Musico

Matt Harvey‘s start for the Buffalo Bisons against the Toledo Mud Hens was more than just a regular appearance in Triple-A. With Dillon Gee likely out the rest of the season, New York’s number 2 prospect has been the subject of numerous discussions throughout the organization. Should they call him up or should they use what they have (likely being Miguel Batista)? Would bringing up Harvey now hurt his overall development as a Major League pitcher? Sandy Alderson and J.P. Ricciardi were both in attendance as many Mets officials were on hand to evaluate Harvey’s performance to see if he should get called up to start against the Dodgers on Saturday at Citi Field, and he didn’t disappoint.

Although he didn’t factor in the decision, Harvey didn’t allow a hit until Argenis Diaz singled off him in the sixth inning. His final line was: 6.2 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks, and 4 strikeouts. He did pitch well with a lot of pressure on him to perform with most of the New York front office watching him in the stands, but it was clear that he didn’t have his best control.

When asked about his pitcher’s performance after the game, Wally Backmansaid he felt Harvey pitched well despite working from behind in the count for a majority of the night. His ability to keep his opponents at bay and was able to make the pitches he needed to in big spots. His lack of control is a bit concerning, four walks is four walks, but there are a few other signs that lead me to think that he’s worthy of being called up to start at Citi Field for the Mets on Saturday.

The internal makeup of a ballplayer is just as important as their physical ability. There was a lot of pressure on Harvey last night; not only with all the news swirling about his possible promotion, but Sandy Alderson was in attendance, and since the Mets were off last night, SNY decided to pick up the broadcast of this game as well. Every pitch would be under a microscope, being scrutinized every which way possible. Playing in a big market like New York, Harvey is going to deal with that on a daily basis, and it’s obvious that he has the internal makeup to thrive under that kind of pressure.

Getting behind in the count so often was a bit alarming, but it was a blessing in disguise because the front office officials in attendance were able to see how Harvey pitches when his back is against the wall and when he doesn’t have his A+ stuff. Again, four walks is not something to ignore, but making the big pitches when he needed to, using his fastball down in the zone and using his curveball effectively to get the outs he needed shouldn’t be overlooked either.

His willingness to not give in to opposing hitters when he was behind in the count and his ability to strand runners when he got into a jam should earn him this promotion. There will be a learning curve and bumps in the road as a rookie, but Harvey gives the Mets the best chance to win and stabilize the rotation right now. We’ve seen Miguel Batista as a starter and we know what we are getting with him on the mound. Bringing up a highly touted, young prospect could inject some life into this struggling team, something that they could use after the letdown in Atlanta. There are also rumors that Zack Wheeler will be getting promoted to Triple-A after his next start, which would effectively take Harvey’s spot in the rotation.

So, all in all, it was a solid start for Harvey. He didn’t dominate the opposition and make them look like little leaguers, but his competitiveness and internal makeup as a pitcher should be enough for him to make his MLB debut Saturday, making Citi Field the place to be this weekend.