Thursday, April 6, 2017

He's Still Here

I have at times felt like I'm the last Mets fan in Matt Harvey's corner. I know that we all want him to do well, and I also know that he's brought some of his issues on himself for one reason or another, but I've seen no reason why Harvey couldn't persevere, shake off his issues and regain some of the luster that he'd lost over the past year. He's already proven that he can come back from a major injury and be successful. In reality, and I've said this before, people seem to just have a problem with Matt Harvey being Matt Harvey. This Spring, while every time he took the mound seemed to be scrutinized, most people were up in arms over the fact that he was seen cavorting around Miami with a model, drinking and smoking and generally having a nice little date for himself. And because he's Matt Harvey, this gives everyone free license to point and yell about what a jerk he is, and how the Mets need to trade him because he's a distraction and a cancer.

Does not compute. We've all been on dates with models and drank and smoked, and nobody's following us around with cameras and posting photos on the internet, and people at our jobs aren't yelling about how we need to be traded. So I say baloney. I think people's dislike of Harvey is based mostly on jealousy. He projects an aura of arrogance but in reality is probably just as insecure as anyone else. The difference is he pitches for the Mets and most people do not.

So that all lines up for this evening's game at Citi Field, which was Harvey's first start since he got run off the mound last July and then went under the knife for the second time in 3 years. It was hard to know what to expect, since his Florida outings were kind of a mixed bag and he wasn't throwing with quite the same pop as he used to. And he was facing the Braves, who'd cuffed him around more than once last year. But out of the darkness, Harvey re-emerged as a pitcher, and rather than trying to blow everyone away instead used what he had, working with a fastball in the mid-90s instead of the high 90s, and dropping curves and sliders and changeups and generally inducing weak contact. He shot through the 1st inning on 6 pitches, entered the 7th having thrown only 67, and by time he departed after 6.2 innings, he'd allowed 3 hits, no walks and 4 strikeouts, while only being touched up for a pair of solo Home Runs from Matt Kemp. More importantly, by time the 7th inning started, and Harvey kicked things off by striking out Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman, you actually started to hear those "HAR-VEY! HAR-VEY!" chants once again.

Offensively, the Mets again started slow, facing Jaime Garcia, the ex-Cardinal who seems oddly out of place on this Braves team. It took until the 5th for the Mets to finally break through, when Neil Walker singled, and Jay Bruce walked, and then Travis d'Arnaud doubled both of them home, a good sign since d'Arnaud hit something like .035 with runners in scoring position last year. In the 6th, the Mets extended their lead when Wilmer Flores did what he usually does against left handed pitchers and hit a 2-run Home Run, and in the 7th, the Mets put the game away with two more runs. Fernando Salas and Addison Reed then salted away the final innings of this 6-2 victory.

The story, however, will be Harvey, who embarked on a bit of a redemption of sorts and proved that although he might not be the pitcher he was two years ago, and may never again be the pitcher he was four years ago, he's still a good pitcher and he still is capable of being someone we can count on to deliver a good performance.

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