Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Mets had a top ten prospect named Zack Wheeler who was deemed the heir apparent to their oft-maligned rotation. It had to be Wheeler, who would assume the role of staff ace. Especially with the controversial trade of surprising knuckleballer, RA Dickey. It seemed unanimous that Wheeler, his high nineties fastball, and array of formidable secondary pitches were just months away from changing everything. That was the plan, but then Matt Harvey happened…
The July 2012 promotion of the Mets’ second best pitching prospect was met with much fan fair. Harvey promptly rose to the occasion in the eleven strike out win that was his debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks. For an encore, he went on to post an ERA well under three in ten starts comprised of almost sixty innings pitched. For certain it looked as though the Mets had another quality starter on their hands, but no one could have anticipated what Matt Harvey had in store for the Mets and their fans in 2013.
Entering last night, Harvey’s 2013 campaign featured a 4-0 start which saw him yield more than one earned run on only one occasion over six starts, in route to the National League Pitcher of the Month award for the month of April. Coming off a full seven day’s rest, Harvey spent Monday night victimizing the White Sox lineup in route to nine scoreless innings of one hit ball with twelve strike outs and exactly zero walks. This saw Matt drop his ERA to an impressively low 1.27 while assuming the league lead in strike outs with 58.
The stats are impressive enough, but they are easily trumped by the undeniable presence that Harvey brings with him to the bump every night. Each start celebrated as “Happy Harvey Day” on various social media forums, the fans have fully accepted Matt as the absolute ace of this staff, no questions asked.
Harvey’s rise to what will soon be, if it isn’t already, super-stardom, will make it that much harder for those that come behind him, namely Wheeler. Having been billed as possessing the best repertoire in the system, its hard to believe that Wheeler can match the ridiculous change-up and slicing slider that Harvey has used to carved through opponents thus far this season. While the Mets will need Wheeler to be a productive member of the rotation in short order if they hope to stay in the hunt this summer, Matt Harvey has made most, if not all fans forget that someone other than he may be the savoir for the Mets pitching woes.
Recent history has seen pitchers as unproven as Mike Pelfrey toe the rubber as the team’s ace. Those days, at least for the time being seem to be behind us. Having been drafted by Omar Minaya in 2010, Harvey will be ineligible for free agency until the 2019 season at the earliest and now represents the youth movement envisioned by Mets general manager, Sandy Alderson. The franchise will need others to rise through the ranks in order to realize Alderson’s vision, but regardless of whether those who will soon follow his path are able to do their part, Matt Harvey is here and the Mets have their ace.
Follow me on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.