Year in Review: Matt Harvey

By Danny Abriano

Continuing our player by player year in review series, below is a look at Matt Harvey‘s contribution to the 2012 Mets, and what we should expect from him going forward.

How he did on the mound:

In late July, after Dillon Gee and Johan Santana went down, Matt Harvey made his long awaited Major League debut.  That night in Arizona, Harvey displayed electric stuff while striking out 11 over 5.1 scoreless innings.  Just as importantly, he was calm, decisive, and worked quickly.  I wrote the day after his first big league start that Harvey was the best starting pitcher the Mets had drafted, developed, and had debut for the team since Dwight Gooden.  From his second start through the end of 2012, Matt Harvey did nothing but bolster my opinion of him and his potential.  Harvey finished the year with a 2.73 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  He struck out 70 batters while walking 26, and held opponents to a .194 BAA.

Before Harvey came up, and during his impressive 59.1 big league innings, there were those who believed he was pitching over his head.  Many refused to believe his potential was as high as it appeared, opining that he’d likely settle in as a #2 or #3 type starter.  That may turn out to be the case, but I think it’s quite clear Harvey has both the tools and the mental approach necessary to be an Ace.  I saw Harvey pitch in the Minor Leagues and in the Major Leagues in 2012, and it almost seemed as if he consciously saved his best bullets for after he made the jump (a thought that was repeated by many others who saw him pitch in both Buffalo and with the Mets).  Harvey has a fastball that sits 93-96, with the ability to touch 97 or 98 MPH.  His slider is a nasty offering, usually coming in somewhere in the high 80’s (though it’s touched 91 MPH).  He has a solid curveball and a developing changeup.  Again, this is a pitcher for whom the sky is the limit.

August 10, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey (33) throws a pitch during the first inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Areas to improve upon:

Walks.  As the competition has risen, so has Harvey’s walks per 9.  He walked 2.84 per 9 in High A ball, 3.47 per 9 in AA, and 3.93 per 9 in AAA.  After reaching the Majors, his walks per 9 were nearly identical to his AAA numbers (3.94 to 3.93).  Still, this is the main area Harvey has to work on.  Once Harvey becomes more comfortable throwing his changeup and curveball, the walk numbers should begin to come down a bit.  Harvey had an issue working deep into games in 2012, due in large part to his high strikeout and walk totals driving his pitch count up.  He admittedly feels like he hasn’t done enough in a particular start when he isn’t able to work into the 7th inning or beyond.  If he cuts down on the number of bases on balls he issues, his per game pitch counts should drop as well, resulting in a more well rounded pitcher who’s able to pitch into the 7th inning consistently.

Projected role for 2013:  

Barring something unforeseen, Harvey will be in the Major League starting rotation in 2013.  Where he slots in the rotation is contingent on whether or not the Mets extend R.A. Dickey‘s contract and the health of Johan Santana.  Harvey was capped at 170 innings pitched in 2012, so he’ll likely throw no more than 200 innings in 2013.

Contract status and trade rumors:

Harvey was paid $480,000 in 2012.  He is under team control, and will not be arbitration eligible until after the 2014 season at the earliest.  Yes, any player can be traded at any time.  Matt Harvey, however, is going nowhere.