The controversial phenom of the Mets pitching staff, Matt Harvey, made his first home start of the new season Tuesday night. It was only the 26 year-old’s second appearance since going on the disabled list on August 27 of 2013. The Connecticut native missed the entire 2014season after a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow required him to undergo Tommy John surgery on October 22, 2013.
His first start on April 9 since his extended stint on the DL was not only a victory but an impressive one. He blanked the Washington Nationals for six frames, yielding only four hits and one walk while fanning 10.
The righty’s professional career began after superior seasons in high school at Fitch in Groton, Connecticut and in college for three years at North Carolina.
The Mets selected him with the seventh overall pick of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Interestingly, the previous day’s winning pitcher for the Mets, Jacob deGrom, was the 272nd selection in that same year’s draft.
Harvey began in the minors in 2011 and rapidly rose to the majors on July 24 of following year. Although his record was 3-5 in 10 major league starts, his ERA was a very low 2.73.
He moved upward to All Star status in his first full season in the majors, 2013. In fact, he was the starting pitcher for the National League at Citi Field where he gave up one hit and fanned three in two innings. During the season, he was 9-5 with the third lowest ERA in the majors, 2.27.
A large crowd of 39,489 came to see Harvey and cheered loudly for his every accomplishment on the mound. He struck out the side in the first inning, but Chase Utley, now batting .400 (6 for 15) against Harvey, homered to right. The home run was the first Harvey yielded since July 8, 2013 when Buster Posey of the Giants took him yard. His 61 innings between home runs was the longest active homerless streak in the majors among starters. Harvey explained the cause, “I hung a curve to Utley.”
The run also broke Harvey’s scoreless mark against Philadelphia at 16.2 innings.
Two singles and a hit batsman led to the second run for the Phillies in the third.
Cody Asche took a 2-0 pitch into the right field stands with one out in the fourth. It was only the second time in his short major league career that Harvey surrendered two homers in a game.
The Mets starter left the game after six frames. He yielded three runs on five hits. He fanned eight but did not issue a base on balls.
As on the previous day, both the Mets manager and the starting pitcher admitted the Mets hurler was not at his best. Manager Terry Collins remarked, “Everybody expects him to be Superman. He [Harvey] went out and did the best he could without his best stuff.”
Harvey admitted his imperfection, “The start might not have been that great. Obviously, I came out strong. As the game went on, I left a couple of pitches up the middle.”
The three earned runs Harvey gave up raised his superlative low ERA against the Phillies from 1.08 to 1.60 and at home from 1.89 to 2.01. He remained undefeated against Philadelphia (5-0) and in April (6-0) as the Mets won, 6-5.