Rising Apple Player of the Week: Matt Harvey

By Matt Musico

The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If  you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

Matt Harvey continues to show he’s more than ready to be a part of a Major League rotation, and his last two starts have earned him this week’s player of the week honors from the Rising Apple staff. Although his start against the Reds last Thursday technically happened last week, we all voted for Jonathon Niese before Harvey took the mound and dominated in what was his most impressive outing with the Mets. So, we decided to include that outing in our vote as well, which put him over the edge.

In his last two starts, facing Cincinnati and Colorado, respectively, Harvey has earned one win while pitching 13.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, 3 walks, and 17 strikeouts. He’s had a knack for setting people down by way of the strikeout; in fact, his 43 K’s in 36 innings pitched is the highest amount for any Mets pitcher to start a career…ever. When you think of an organization that has been as pitching rich as the Mets over the last 50 years, that’s quite the honor.

For Major League pitchers, the successful ones will almost always be effective when they are ahead in the count; they are in control and can throw whatever pitch they want to so the timing and balance of their opposition is off. However, it’s how a pitcher responds to being behind in the count that can tell the entire story. In his six starts since getting promoted from Triple-A, Harvey has compiled an ERA of 0.64 when he’s ahead in the count; when he’s behind, he’s posted a 1.93 ERA. That shows fans and the organization that Harvey not only has electric stuff, but he trusts it when he’s not in control of an at-bat.

What could be some of the reasons that have led to Harvey’s early success in the Big Leagues? Could it be his 95 mph fastball? Sure, that definitely helps, but it’s how he mixes in his other three pitches (slider, curveball, and changeup), all at different speeds that keeps hitters off-balance at the plate. He has good movement on his pitches because opponents are swinging and making contact with balls out of the strike zone 57% of the time, which leads to balls not getting hit hard. Oh, and let’s not forget that in 11 at-bats, he’s hitting .455 with two doubles, including a two-hit performance in his last start.

Honorable mention: Yup, you guessed it; Jonathon Niese had another terrific week, as he won his start against the Nationals, going into the 8th inning while shutting them out and striking out 7. After winning player of the week honors last week, it was a close vote, but Harvey’s solid performance Wednesday sealed the deal for the rookie.