Sunday, July 12, 2015

One-Man Show

Matt Harvey, for the first half of this season, has pitched for the most part like a guy coming back from major elbow surgery. That's not really any kind of news. There's days where he's looked great, there's days where he's looked sweaty and uncomfortable, and days where he's been somewhere in between. Not great, not awful, but not anything particularly special. For someone who's set a rather lofty bar for himself where he expects to dominate every time out, and where everyone watching him expects him to dominate every time out, this can appear somewhat frustrating. But, this is how it's going to be this season. We just have to accept it. Or, more appropriately, he just has to accept it.

Harvey finished his first half with one of his better outings on Saturday; a 7-inning effort against Arizona where he found himself in a quick 2-run hole but got angry, got tough and fought back. It wasn't his cleanest effort, as he gave up 5 hits and 4 walks, but he did register 9 strikeouts, most of which was accomplished as he was breathing fire. This seemed to carry over to his plate appearances, as he also stole the show with his first career Home Run off of Patrick Corbin in the 5th inning, a 2-run shot that put the Mets on top for good as they registered their second consecutive 4-2 win over Arizona.

Usually, when a pitcher pitches well and that's the story of the game, there's not much more to write that could be construed as really interesting and insightful beyond "[the pitcher] pitched well and the [team] won the game." Enough games over the course of a 162-game schedule could be described as such that it makes you wonder how columnists and bloggers can fill their shingle for 6 months. But we always find ways. On a day like this, everyone only wants to talk about Matt Harvey's hitting and how the Mets pitchers, who for so long have been a mostly useless unit, are now a strength. Harvey's Home Run was the second by a Mets pitcher this season, following Syndergaard's Home Run way back in May.

Think about this. Syndergaard and Harvey each have Home Runs. deGrom and Matz have also proven themselves difficult outs. Even Jon Niese can knock a single when he needs to. Of course, nobody has turned hitting into an Art Form quite the way Bartolo Colon has, but that's another story entirely. But after years of doing nothing, and starting the season 0-for-64 last year, these Met pitchers are now not to be slept on when they come to bat.

A Home Run from a Mets Pitcher used to be a rare and celebrated occurrence. Harvey's yesterday was but the 50th in team history, and prior to this season, Home Runs had come from Jeremy Hefner in 2012, Johan Santana in 2010, and before that John Maine way back in 2007. I've seen my share of Mets Pitcher Home Runs, in addition to being present for Hefner's and Santana's shots, I also have seen Dwight Gooden, Armando Reynoso and Mark Clark hit it out. I also once saw Dontrelle Willis hit a Grand Slam off Jose Lima in a scene I'd rather forget. But usually when this happens, there's this rather unique roar that comes from the crowd, less a emphatic roar and more of a "Holy Shit!" kind of scream. You don't see Pitchers do things like this very often, but now that Mets pitchers have registered multiple Home Runs in a season for the first time since 1997, maybe this might become a bit more of a regular occurrence. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to sock one out, but it might start happening more often than you'd think.

No comments: