Thursday, July 26, 2012

Matt Harvey to Make MLB Debut for Mets Tonight

Last Saturday I wrote an article about the pitching woes of the New York Mets since the All-Star break, highlighted by their ace Johan Santana being sent to the DL after getting shelled in his last three starts.  I also mentioned that starter Dillon Gee is likely out for the season, and that since the Mets starting rotation is struggling so mightily, that it would not be long before they called up their prized pitching prospect Matt Harvey.

I claimed that if the 23-year-old Harvey continued his stellar pitching for Triple-A Buffalo last Saturday, then I expected his next start to be for the Mets.  While I was right in the notion that he was called up after Saturday’s start, by no means did Harvey have a stellar outing.  He picked up the loss while surrendering 6 runs on 7 hits in only 5 innings pitched against the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.  

Regardless of this unsatisfactory outing, the Mets’ pitching staff is currently struggling enough that New York is quickly falling out of the National League wildcard race, so they will turn to their prized prospect in a move of desperation.  They hope that the hard-throwing righty can help reverse the Mets’ rapid decline since the All-Star break, during which they have dropped their last six games and eleven of their last twelve games.

Harvey makes his MLB debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at 9:40 pm EDT.  He is matched up against Arizona’s Wade Miley, who has 11 wins and a 3.02 ERA this season.  With the Mets struggling and Miley pitching well, Harvey is not necessarily in a great position to win his first big league outing.  But whether or not he can impress the baseball world and win his first career start in the Majors, Harvey is likely to have a great MLB career.

Read more after the jump...

The kid from Connecticut has copious amounts of potential with a mid-90s fastball, a Major League slider, and a changeup that has been gradually improving this season.  He will eventually become a very effective Major League pitcher later in his career.  However as for right now, he would greatly benefit from finishing out one more season in the minors instead of being called up to pitch for a desperate Mets’ squad as a means of last resort.

Harvey is 7-5 for Buffalo this season with a 3.68 ERA.  He has an impressive 112 strikeouts in 110 innings pitched.  While Harvey’s numbers are good, they do not scream MLB-ready, especially after he gave up six runs in his most recent outing when he knew that the Mets would be closely watching.    

Another concern is that Harvey is a righty who is not so great against right-handed batters, which could ultimately result in disaster against hard-hitting big league hitters.  Against righties, Harvey sports a worrisome 4.45 ERA with only 42 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.  Meanwhile in seven less innings against lefties, Harvey is much more dominant with 70 strikeouts and a 2.81 ERA.  If right-handed Triple-A batters can hit Harvey, then Major League batters will too.  

The kid has great stuff and tons of potential, but frankly he is just not ready for the Majors.  Harvey would be much better off by earning his starting spot in the rotation during next year’s spring training, rather than being called up at a desperate time where the Mets can’t buy themselves a win, and Harvey will likely rack up some losses for the dwindling club.  

By promoting Harvey it is clear that the Mets are not yet ready to pack it all in for the season, but they have now fallen to 7 games back from a wildcard spot, and rushing their 23-year-old prospect to the Majors is simply not the right answer for rejuvenating a struggling squad in their fading hopes of attaining a playoff berth.

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