Time to dust off the Bat-Signal: the Dark Knight is making his long-awaited return to Gotham. Former New York Mets ace Matt Harvey will be on the bump for the visiting Baltimore Orioles today to close out a two-game set in Flushing.
Harvey is no stranger to Citi Field – after a solid rookie campaign in 2012, he was a fixture of the starting rotation for a good four years before injuries and off-the-field antics caused him to fall from the good graces of Mets fans far and wide.
Once seen as a superhero of sorts (hence the DC Comics moniker), Harvey’s descent into villainy is the stuff of Mets legend. Such a precipitous drop-off in quality has been seen in Queens before (Roberto Alomar, anyone?), but Harvey’s case seemed different. It seemed more vicious, more personal.
The end of Matt Harvey’s time with the Mets
After what seemed like countless setbacks and run-ins with the reliably ruthless New York press, Harvey was DFA’d in 2018 after refusing a trip to the minor leagues. The Mets shipped him off, and his name became inextricably linked with vitriol and spite almost overnight.
Now, though, in 2021, things seem different. People don’t spit his name the way they used to. There’s some bite, sure, but it’s mellowed out. The steam emanating from the boiling anger of Mets fans has cooled, the ice over the proverbial river of forgiveness having thawed. Not completely, yet, but enough.
As for Harvey, he also seems different. Though he doesn’t have the same electricity coursing through his veins, he’s having his best season since 2015.
Entering Wednesday’s matchup, Harvey has a 3-2 record in seven starts with a 3.60 ERA. His 116 ERA+ is also his best in recent memory.
So, in anticipation of the Caped Crusader setting foot on once-familiar soil for the first time since 2018, I felt compelled to take it upon myself to remember the good times, and in the process, share them with all of you.
I’m going to be ranking these games by a metric called “Game Score.” Per MLB, “Game Score allows for a quick assessment of a particular pitcher’s performance, simply by looking at one easy-to-understand number.”
Developed by American baseball writer and sabermetrician Bill James in the 1980s, Game Score has been adopted as a definitive way to effectively compare great pitching performances across baseball history.
A score of 50 is considered average; the highest score ever recorded for a standard nine-inning game was 105, notched by young Cubs phenom Kerry Wood in his one-hit, 20-strikeout masterpiece in 1998.
[Note: That game is also significant because it came in his rookie year in just his fifth professional start, but that’s a story for another day on another site.]
There have been many great pitching performances in Mets history: Bobby Jones tossing a one-hitter to send the Mets to the NLCS in 2000; Tom Seaver’s “Imperfect Game”; Johan Santana delivering the first no-hitter in franchise history; Al Leiter’s complete-game gem in Cincinnati; or any time Jacob deGrom is on the mound.
However, it is also worth remembering just how lethal Matt Harvey could be when he had his best stuff.
So, I went hunting for some of his most memorable performances in a Mets uniform. What I found was not just a longer track record of success than I remembered – I believe I have been able to determine the definitive Matt Harvey performance.
As we await our former hero’s imminent arrival, let’s take a trip down memory lane. What better place to start than the beginning.