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.

Surprise surprise, the Mets had yet another disheartening week, going 1-5 against the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies. There haven’t been many constants for the Amazins since the All-Star break, but one player that has outperformed the organization’s expectations is Matt Harvey. After having a humbling Spring Training, heading back to Triple-A to start the season and work on his control, not many people felt he would have an impact with the Mets in 2012. Maybe a couple of September starts to get his feet wet. Well, he was thrown into the fire, and came out the other side without a scratch.

August 29, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets defeated the Phillies, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

There are few reasons why fans continue to watch the Mets on television and/or show up to the ballpark this month; one is David Wright‘s pursuit of Ed Kranepool’s franchise hits record; R.A. Dickey‘s attempt to become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola, and Harvey. Whenever the rookie right-hander takes the mound, fans can drift off and daydream about the future and how lethal of a combination him and Zack Wheeler will be once he’s ready for the Show.

Lucky for us, Harvey has been giving us a fantastic preview, making the feature presentation even more enticing. With his innings limit finally shutting him down for the season this week, he made his last start against the Phillies count, as he gave up a lead-off home run to Jimmy Rollins, but didn’t allow another hit for the duration of his 7 inning appearance. He also walked 3 and struck out 7, yet was denied his first win in front of the home crowd because Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer in the ninth to steal the victory away from the Mets.

Harvey’s 10 starts in the Big Leagues was just enough of a sample size for New York to be sure that he’s ready to be a piece of the 2013 starting rotation. His stuff was electric, as he racked up 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings pitched. The one thing he will be looking to improve will be his control; he hit 3 batters and walked 26, preventing him from consistently going deep into ballgames, as he couldn’t get through 6 innings on four different occasions.

Terry Collins said they plan on working with Harvey to dial back some of his velocity in favor of some more control, which proved to work wonders for Bobby Parnell this season, who’s mostly been a model of consistency. Throwing in the high-90s is nice, but a very wise person once told me that the best pitch in baseball is not a slider, or a well-placed fastball, but strike one. Once Harvey continues to get ahead of hitters on a more consistent basis, I anticipate his strikeout numbers to increase because he has the type of stuff that can put an opposing hitter away rather easily.

With this nomination, Harvey now has three Rising Apple Player of the Week awards, putting him in the lead for the season thus far.

Honorable mentions: It was a tight race this week between Harvey and Ruben Tejada, who put together a couple of three-hit games and contributed some solid defense over the last week. Also, a special shout out goes to Ike Davis, who’s been able to stay focused and record two multi-hit games and surpass the 80 RBI mark this week despite talks about him possibly being traded in the winter, as well as knocks on his “nightlife” habits.