Thursday, May 19, 2016

Back To Zero

I was right back at Citi Field this evening, two nights after witnessing Syndergaard perform a clinical dissection of the Washington Nationals. But for as good as Syndergaard was on Tuesday, that's how badly Matt Harvey pitched tonight.

Few things are more galling than watching the Mets get whipped by a division rival, and this certainly qualified as a whipping. But watching Matt Harvey just get taken apart in the 3rd inning really bugged me. No, Harvey wasn't helped by a pair of defensive miscues by Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto in a 3rd inning sequence where the Mets appeared to abandon all ability to play defense. But those things happen in Baseball and as a Pitcher you learn to work through them. Or, you implode completely. Harvey, who has the talent and the track record to make you think he can work through them, did the opposite.

He'd done himself no favors already by allowing Daniel Murphy to tee off and hit one over the Center Field fence on an 0-2 pitch in the 3rd inning, thereby removing any and all good will left towards Murphy as he essentially skipped around the bases (and let's not forget the crap he pulled with Cespedes in the 2nd). The 3rd inning was just a massacre. Harvey already was in trouble when he loaded the bases with 1 out and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Zimmerman, of course, hit the necessary ground ball but Cabrera booted it and a run scored. Anthony Rendon followed by hitting a line drive to left, which probably should be caught 103 times out of 100, except that Michael Conforto had a moment with Baseball and it clanked off his glove to plate two more runs. From there, Harvey basically turned into Jon Niese and it wasn't a pretty sight. By time Collins mercifully removed him from the game, the score was 9-1, people were starting to leave and those remaining showered him with boos.

I'm never a big proponent of booing my own team, and certainly I let the other fans there speak for themselves. In this instance, Harvey probably deserved to be booed. This hasn't been anything resembling a good start for Harvey and as it's continued, he seems to become more and more befuddled to the point where he's now going around with that hangdog John Maine look on his face. And I've now compared him to two different middling Mets pitchers, and that's not what Harvey is or purports to be. But when you portray yourself the way Harvey does, you open yourself up to a large amount of criticism for not performing up to level. The Media has already had a field day tap dancing on Harvey this season and I can only imagine what sort of things people will write come tomorrow morning. Then, you have the fan response and there are plenty of fans who have developed a distaste for Harvey following the inning-limit flap and the World Series business, again, I can't say I agree with them, but they're fans just as much as I am, and you know, when you go to a game, and you expect Matt Harvey to pitch a good, competitive game and he vomits up 9 runs in 2.2 innings and you now have to sit through 6 innings of worthless baseball, sure, you have every right to be pissed off.

Maybe all of this is a blessing in disguise. I know that if nothing else all athletes are prideful and often insecure, and this has to be incredibly injurious for Harvey, who has exhibited tendencies of both traits. But sometimes getting totally dressed down like this causes you to regroup, get back to basics and fix whatever the issue is, if it's physical, mental, mechanical or whatever. This happened to the Mets as a team last season when they got no hit by the Giants and, yes, it got worse before it got better, but it did get better. Harvey can get better too. He has to, because I don't think it's quite possible to pitch much worse.

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