Although his focus will be on executing his pitches against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park in the rubber game later this afternoon, fans are already looking forward to this upcoming Friday, when Matt Harvey will make his first start (of what we hope is many) at Citi Field, facing the Atlanta Braves. Harvey, who will be making his third MLB start today in SoCal, has been exactly what the Mets needed while they were dealt with the injuries to Dillon Gee and Johan Santana.
Through his first two starts as a Big Leaguer, Harvey is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. To add to that, the opposition is hitting .171 off him in his first 11.1 innings pitched, including 18 strikeouts. The rookie right-hander is just the first of a few young arms that Mets fans and the organization is excited about. Harvey currently holds a 1.43 GB/FB ratio and he’s been able to keep hitters off balance with great control of his secondary pitches. He’s thrown his fastball 62% of the time at an average speed of 94.6 mph, but he’s also been able to mix in a slider (88.5 mph), curveball (82.4 mph), and changeup (86 mph) an equal amount. His adrenaline will surely be pumping when he hits the mound Friday night, and after the well-documented, terrible start to the second half, his presence will help fans forget about the previous homestand, with the 0-6 showing being the worst since 2002.
In addition to Harvey making the start Friday, Terry Collins said that the Mets plan to activiate Johan Santanafrom the disabled list in time to start against the Braves on Saturday. After throwing a successful bullpen on Friday, Santana is scheduled to make a rehab start today for the Class-A Brooklyn Cyclones. Sandy Alderson said the southpaw is scheduled to throw three innings during his appearance, and as long as there
are no ill effects, he will be re-taking his spot in the rotation, which has been filled wonderfully by Jeremy Hefner, who just pitched six innings of one-run ball against San Diego. Santana is looking to erase the last three starts after he injured his ankle, where he went 0-3 with a 13.51 ERA. Collins said that once Johan is back with New York, Hefner will remain with the team in the bullpen, which is fine with him, as he’s happy to help in any capacity, and he told Adam Rubin that Santana is a much better pitcher than him. That will lead to a roster move, with reliever Elvin Ramirez likely to get optioned back to the minors.
Most thought Ramirez would be packing his bags once Frank Francisco rejoined the team this weekend in San Diego, but Tim Byrdak and his league-leading 56 appearances had to be put on the DL with shoulder soreness (hm, weird), leaving Josh Edgin as the lone lefty in the New York ‘pen. However, even though Francisco is back and got his 19th save last night, he’s claiming that he’s having issues with his right lat muscle. After having multiple setbacks during his six-week stint on the disabled list, Francisco, who reportedly lost 20 pounds during his rehab, hopes he will be able to pitch through it. Alderson’s comments to the media sounds quite fed up with Frankie’s latest ailment:
"“Who knows? It’s been an ongoing saga — ‘I’m OK to pitch, but … fill in the blank.’ I think you’ve got to make the [DL activation] decision based on how the player is feeling, and whether he feels he’s ready to pitch. In this case, he thinks he’s ready. So we’re ready to roll him out.”"
Meanwhile, there were a couple of injuries on the minor league level, one more pertinent to the Major League team than the other. Gavin Cecchini, the Mets’ top pick in this year’s first player draft, fractured the tip of his middle finger. At this time, it is not known how long it will take the young shortstop to bounce back and return to action for Kingsport. At Triple-A Buffalo, Kirk Nieuwenhuis came up lame running down the first base line Friday night, and has been diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia. Whether or not Captain Kirk will need to have surgery is yet to be determined.
New York closes out their 11-game West Coast road trip this afternoon at Petco Park, hoping to take their second straight series and finish the trip with a 7-4 record as they come home to play host to Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.