When Matt Harvey made his debut for the New York Mets, a star was born. Let’s look back at his first big league game seven years ago today.
The year is 2012 and the date is July 26th. It’s just after 6pm and the New York Mets are set to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in a regular season matchup. Despite the later start time, the weather is a blistering 102 degrees in the harsh Arizona climate.
At first glance, this seems like any other MLB game. However, Mets fans remember this date as the debut of one of the most polarizing figures to don their uniforms: pitcher Matt Harvey. After a promising minor league career, Harvey was called up to take the rotation spot of ailing ace Johan Santana.
Harvey’s career began with a bang. He pitched 5.1 innings while giving up only three hits and issuing three walks. He did not allow a run and recorded an incredible 11 strikeouts (which set a Mets record for strikeouts in a pitching debut). He also drew attention for going two for two as a hitter. Harvey’s season debut was so impressive, that he remained in the team’s rotation for the remainder of the season.
The highs of Matt Harvey’s career were like few others. The hot, young, prospect would finish the 2012 season with 10 starts, 70 strikeouts, and a 2.73 ERA. His rise to fame seemed to spark a new era in Mets history. Harvey went on to record a 2.27 ERA in 2013 and a 2.71 ERA in 2015. He also posted solid numbers during the team’s surprise World Series run. Though it ended in heartbreaking defeat, the Mets seemed primed for a long run as postseason contenders.
Harvey racked up a number of personal accolades in his first few seasons. He would be named the National League All-Star game starter in 2013 and would finish the season with the fourth-most votes for the Cy Young Award the same season.
However, the lows of his career were beginning to emerge. Injuries, combined with poor performance, hampered the young ace for the next few seasons. At his worst, Harvey posted a 6.70 ERA in 18 starts as a Met in 2017. Reports also began to emerge about issues in the pitcher’s off-field life.
The Harvey experience in New York City finally flat-lined with his untimely trade to the Cincinnati Reds during the 2018 season. In return, the Mets received injury-plagued catcher Devin Mesoraco. Harvey had a forgetful season in Cincinnati and was not retained by the team. He signed a one-year, $11 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels during the offseason, but was recently released by the team due to poor play and injury.
That hot summer night in the Arizona desert seems like a lifetime ago. The once-promising Cy Young contender now finds himself fighting for his major league career. There are serious questions about whether or not the former star will earn another chance to sign with a major league team this offseason. There are also doubts about whether Harvey is capable of handling the workload of a starting pitcher, or whether a stint as a relief arm would suit him better.
Say what you want about Harvey, but it is undeniable that he did everything is spectacular fashion! Mets fans remember Harvey’s tenure with the team as a roller coaster ride. He did it all: set records, faltered in front of the media, led his team to the World Series, and was traded away by the team that once considered him to be a cornerstone of the franchise.
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Despite the painful experiences toward the end of his Mets career, this writer can’t help but pull for the Dark Knight as he tried to rewrite his legacy on the West Coast.