Despite losing a Cy Young Award winner via trade this offseason, the Met pitching rotation is still arguably the club’s biggest strength. The rotation is built around a few young and talented pitchers, with a more just a few months from the big leagues. The most promising of the bunch is Matt Harvey, who catapulted himself to ace status after last year’s incredible ten-start stretch to end the season.
Harvey, 23, was the subject of much debate last July, as the Mets needed a starter to fill the void left by Johan Santana, who was injured and shut down for the last two months of the year. Being only 23 with only 245.2 minor league innings under his belt, some people were skeptical and thought that the Mets should wait to bring up the 6’4″ right-hander. I was a little skeptical as well, but after a few starts was convinced that Sandy Alderson made the right decision in calling him up.
Harvey got his first taste of the big leagues on July 26 in Arizona. The team was in the middle of a long west coast road trip, so the time seemed right. The pressure was still high, despite the situation. Mets fans around the country were glued to their televisions. Harvey responded with a dominant performance. He allowed only three hits and three walks, while striking out 11 D-Backs, more than Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver fanned in their big league debuts.
The rest of the season went just as smoothly for Harvey. He had one tough start in San Diego in which he gave up five runs on eight hits, but was otherwise dominant. He finished the year with a 2.73 ERA over 59.1 innings, striking out 70 while walking 26. The walk number is a bit high, but it is what you would expect from a 23 year-old rookie.
There is no reason not to be extremely optimistic for Matt Harvey this season. He has everything going for him. He’s dominated every level of the minor leagues, and put up fantastic numbers at a very young age in the majors last year. The only negative for him will be the pressure that will come from being the ace of the pitching staff, but with the pressure that he has already faced as the top Mets prospect for two years, I don’t think that will become a problem.
What I love the most about Harvey is his work ethic. He always wants the best, and doesn’t ever want to settle for anything less than dominance. You have to love that in a rookie. Harvey is also an extremely hard worker, and is willing to make adjustments. That’s why I think he will see major success this year. He won’t see much of a “sophomore slump” like other pitchers tend to do. Even if the Mets aren’t in the playoff hunt, Harvey and the other top prospects will make this season worth watching.