Monday, June 01, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Dark Night Rising

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS: The Dark Knight has Gotham fans feeling slightly uneasy.

Other pitchers wish they could be as good as Matt Harvey when he struggles.

The Dark Knight has failed to win a game in his last 5 starts, and warranted or not, citizens of Gotham are becoming increasingly riddled over the status of their ace pitcher.

Seeing his first MLB action since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey won his first 5 decisions of the season.  After his initial start, the next 3 were made on normal rest, while his 5th start was made on 6 days rest.  He exceeded 100 pitches once, and averaged 6.2 innings per start, with 33.2 total innings pitched.  He allowed an average of 1.8 runs per game, 5.4 hits, 0.8 walks, with 6.8 strikeouts and fanned 34 overall.  Matt allowed 3 home runs, and posted a 2.44 ERA.
Since May 8th, Matt is 0-3 (w/2 no decisions), with an uncharacteristic 3.82 ERA.  He exceeded 100 pitches 3 times.  In 33 innings, he allowed 14 earned runs on 27 hits and 7 walks.  Harvey's strikeouts are actually up.  He totaled 37 strikeouts and averaged 7.4 K/9.

However, two stellar efforts against the Cubs and Cardinals went unrewarded.  In 2 no-decisions, he totaled 15 innings pitched, allowed no runs on 9 hits and 3 walks, and totaled 18 strikeouts.

Then on May 23rd Terry Collins did some babbling regarding Harvey potentially suffering from a dead arm right after enduring the worst performance of his short career in Pittsburgh.  

Matt followed that up with another loss against the Marlins, although at times he appeared dominant. Harvey tied for his second longest outing of the season.  In 8 innings he allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits and a walk, and posted a season high 11 strikeouts.  It was the 9th time he achieved double-digit strikeouts in 46 career starts.

His fastball velocity is down only slightly from 95.4 mph prior to his surgery, to 95.0 mph since his return, and he's throwing it only fractionally more often this year than in 2013.

From 2013 to the present, Matt's curveball has down ticked from 83.4 mph, to 83.0 this year, while his usage rose from 13.0%, to 13.9% so far this season.

If he's using his fastball and curve more this season, as a simple matter of accounting then, his slider and change naturally experienced down ticks in usage.

In 2013, his slider averaged 89.7 mph, but has dropped to 88.8 mph thus far, while his usage dropped from 18.7%, to 15.2% this year.  His use of the change-up also dipped from 8.4%, to just 4.9% this season.

Perhaps somewhere within those numbers lies the reason why he has surrendered 7 home runs in 10 starts.  In 2013, he led the N.L. with an 0.4 HR/9 average.  This year, he's up to a 0.9 mark, and his overall H/9 is up as well.

But, in truth, only Matt Harvey's outing against Pittsburgh was truly distressing because Andrew McCutchen made it seem so.

On Thursday, June 4th, Matt will make his 11th start of the season in Arizona against Paul Goldschmidt and the Diamondbacks.  He will do so on 6 days rest, as the Mets begin implementing their 6-man starting rotation this week.

The biggest question worrisome fans of Gotham nevertheless want answered is whether they can expect the Real Deal of his first 5 starts, or, if they're in store for something resembling his most recent performances.

While that's not such a bad thing, we'll nevertheless just have to wait and patiently be on the lookout for the Matt Signal rising over Phoenix.


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