Yesterday, I called Matt Harvey one the biggest bad-asses in baseball after reading about this incident that took place last season, when Jon Rauch (good riddance) decided to haze the young rookie.
During his rookie season last year, Harvey was tired and decided to take a nap in a side room of the Mets’ clubhouse. One of baseball’s stupid decrees goes something like: Rookies pretty much can’t do anything. That includes nap. The self-appointed enforcer of this rule was Jon Rauch, the 6-foot-11 relief pitcher with head-to-toe tattoos and the sort of perma-snarl reserved for nuns and rabid dogs.
Rauch, according to people who saw the incident, barged into the room with bucket of ice water, which he proceeded to dump on Harvey. It waterlogged Harvey’s phone, which was resting on his chest as an alarm, and incited an even more electrical reaction inside Harvey.
He bounded up and challenged Rauch to a fight. Right there. Right then. He gave up 7 inches, about 75 pounds and a gallon or so of bad ink. It didn’t matter that he was a rookie. Harvey would not be a joke. He would not be a punch line in Rauch’s re-telling. He would not let some mediocre clown play him.
Rauch backed away.
From that day forth, everyone who witnessed the incident or heard about it understood a new Mets commandment: Thou shalt not trifle with Matt Harvey. And they gleaned something that they may not have understood at the time but certainly will going forward: If he can stand up against the big, bad leviathan and turn into the alpha dog just like that, so can the team that for the last five years has been nothing but joke after punch line after clown bait.
Today, I give you this, courtesy of one of our readers Gus, who linked me to this post on FanGraphs in which Jeff Stevens wrote:
Matt Harvey didn’t throw a no-hitter against the Braves on Tuesday, but he did almost do that, not allowing a hit until the bottom of the seventh. It’s not that Harvey relied entirely on the strikeout — of the batters he faced, 13 didn’t whiff. But then, of the batters he faced, 13 did whiff, and Harvey’s season rate is verging on 30%. Matt Harvey was already good a year ago. Since then he’s only induced more grounders and cut his walk rate in half. Harvey, at this point, is in the argument for being the most valuable young pitcher in all of baseball.
Against the Braves, Harvey registered 15 swinging strikes on secondary stuff, which is outstanding. Yet he also picked up eight whiffs on his heater, which is kind of par for the Harvey course. No other starter’s fastball has led to so many swinging strikes, as Harvey can just be completely overwhelming. Instead of just using his fastball as a foundation, Harvey uses it also as a weapon, which is a rare gift. To have a swing-and-miss fastball is to have one hell of an advantage, and though fastballs tend to get slower over time, for now, at least, Harvey’s elite.
Staring Down The Barrel Of A Future Cy Young…
Harvey is the first rounder that most GMs can only dream about drafting. He’s not that 10th or 39th round draft pick that you oftentimes get lucky with. He was the primary target and all the scouting and all the hunches about him were right. Considering that Tom Seaver wasn’t drafted, Matt Harvey could end up being the greatest pitcher the Mets ever drafted in 52 years when all is said and done. And even Dwight Gooden would agree with me on that.
Oh and memo to MetsBlog:
You CAN BET that Matt Harvey will win a boatload of Cy Young Awards. You CAN BET that Matt Harvey will start many an All Star Game including the first one he is eligible for this July at Citi Field. Heck why stop there? You CAN BET that barring injuries, Matt Harvey will have his number alongside that of “The Franchise” on our outfield wall with Gil and Casey when his playing days are done.
Yes, Matt Harvey is the most valuable pitcher in baseball… I wouldn’t swap him for any other active pitcher on the planet.
And you can bet on that!