Since being promoted to the big leagues on July 26, 2012, Matt Harvey has lived up to, and at times, exceeded expectations. The former first round draft pick has become one of the toughest pitchers to hit in the National League since his debut and his confidence is on par with that of a veteran pitcher – a pitcher such as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden, to name a few.
With that in mind, let’s compare Harvey’s numbers through his first 14 starts with those of the aforementioned Seaver, Koosman and Gooden. That threesome ranks 1-2-3 in most of the Mets’ all-time pitching categories, including wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts.
In addition to having lengthy and successful careers with the Mets, all three pitchers started off exceptionally well when they were neophytes, with Seaver and Gooden taking home the Rookie of the Year Award in 1967 and 1984, respectively, and Kooosman finishing second to future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1968.
Does Matt Harvey compare favorably to the triumvirate of Seaver, Koosman and Gooden through 14 starts? The answer is a resounding yes!
Note: Jerry Koosman made six relief appearances for the Mets in 1967 before making his first start. The numbers above do not include those relief appearances. Only each pitcher’s first 14 starts as a Met were considered for the purposes of this comparison.
Although Matt Harvey pitched fewer innings in his first 14 starts than the other three pitchers, only Jerry Koosman earned more wins. In addition, Harvey’s 102 strikeouts are far more than the whiffs recorded by Seaver and Koosman through their first 14 starts, and falls just five short of the total posted by Gooden.
Gooden has a slight edge on Harvey in strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio, but Harvey is the proud owner of the lowest ERA and lowest WHIP of the four starters. Harvey has also held opposing hitters to the lowest batting average.
It’s been nearly three decades since Dwight Gooden burst onto the major league scene with an assortment of pitches that caused many a hitter to walk back to the dugout shaking their heads in disgust, amazement and bewilderment. It’s been even longer since Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman did the same.
All three hurlers pitched in a Met uniform for over a decade and no conversation about the top pitchers in franchise history can be complete without the names Seaver, Koosman and Gooden being mentioned.
Matt Harvey is only 24 years old and in a short period of time has established himself as the ace of the pitching staff. It’s impossible to say whether he can maintain his incredible production over the course of the season and the rest of his career, but one thing’s for sure. What Harvey has accomplished over the first 14 starts of his career has rarely been duplicated by a Mets pitcher. However, some of the few Mets pitchers who did match Harvey’s phenomenal start went on to become team legends.
Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Dwight Gooden all have plaques in the Mets Hall of Fame to honor their achievements on the field as three of the best pitchers in the history of the franchise. Matt Harvey wants to become the fourth face on the Mount Rushmore of Mets’ starting pitchers. If his performance through his first 14 starts is a portent of things to come, it would be wise for the team to keep that mountain-carving chisel sharp.