(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Biggest game of the year for Matt Harvey? That was the assumption for the much and talked about New York Mets righthander Tuesday night. Harvey was the center of attention against the Washington Nationals and in the end the Harvey innings continued to compile and so did the wins for the Mets.
And it was the biggest comeback win of this season of the unexpected for the Mets. The Harvey escapade the past five days was also unexpected, so why not culminate his latest and maybe next to last start with a win that widened the gap between the first place Mets and second place Nationals?
Perhaps it is too soon for a magic number countdown that would put New York back in the postseason for the first time in nine years. And with Harvey, that magic number of innings could also be a little premature, though his five innings of work Tuesday night would indicate the command was not there, perhaps an indicator the innings count of 180 is more realistic.
But there was no talk about the innings after the comeback. There was, according to manager Terry Collins, no talk of the Harvey escapade in the clubhouse and there was no distraction towards the Mets conducting their business. The Harvey story was an afterthought because the Mets conducted their business with another significant win.
Remember this, as much as Matt Harvey was the story and public enemy number one of Mets fans the past few days, he is a competitor. Surely the distraction of what his agent Scott Boras caused had to be on his mind as he went to the mound Tuesday night. Realize also, as much as Harvey can be self centered, there is also that competitive edge and reality that his arm is a cog to this Mets pitching rotation that will get them to playing more baseball in October.
So there are sides that can be taken here. One is the value of what Harvey will offer the Mets now or later, or for another team that will go the extra mile and open the vault to perhaps making Harvey the most lucrative pitcher in baseball in a few years. But for now, and it should be, it’s all about the Mets and Harvey helping his team go deep into the postseason.
And it is possible, if Harvey is capable, and it certainly appears he can be, that his arm will anchor this young Mets pitching staff in October. Tuesday night, Harvey was not showing he can be that pitcher as the Nationals took control early. But as Harvey saw, many innings later, the complexion of this Mets team is approaching these three games with the Nationals as if playoff baseball is already here.
And they responded at the plate, as they have been doing since the complexion of this lineup changed at the trading deadline. Harvey saw that, even though he was not the winner as Mets fans continue to see him as the hypocrite who wanted to go the distance and now was caught in between his boss, Scott Boras and the Mets higher command that pay him now.
The first inning it was Harvey clocked at 97 on the radar gun. He was the center of attention, taking away the significance of how a Mets win would make it more difficult for the Nationals to make this a close race. Five pitches in the game, the velocity was 96, 98, and a fastball past Anthony Rendon at 99, an inning with two strikeouts, four hits and two runs,
You could hear the “Oh No” and Get Lost Harvey chants from the Mets fans at Nationals ballpark. And if this was Harvey’s last start, or one more during the final week of the season, the only way the fans forget about the drama of the past few days, is if Harvey takes the mound and becomes the “Dark Knight” of Gotham again.
Except, that may not be possible again because the damage was done. Matt Harvey appears to be all about Matt Harvey, then again when was it not all about Matt Harvey? Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard took away some of that momentum, so did the arrival of another rookie with an arm, Steven Matz.
“I have no idea,” Harvey said Tuesday night regarding his next start. He answered that the way he wanted to, with his innings meter count now at 171-⅔ innings. And there is no telling where this goes from here because the GM Sandy Alderson, Harvey and Boras have apparently come to some type of working agreement.
But the only and major agreement is that Harvey does what is best for the team because the Mets are in a place they want to be, in a territory that was not expected this September. Harvey always wanted to be there and you can bet that he still wants to be there, but Boras and a doctor created a storm that was unexpected.
Tuesday night calmed the storm for the moment, and better that Harvey did not have to face the music at a packed Citi Field in Flushing. Time heals the old wounds and fans will forgive if Harvey gets the big win in October and the Mets look more and more like a team that will be playing baseball in October.
The drama will continue with Matt Harvey who did not get his biggest win. Instead, a win by the Mets over the Nationals Wednesday night almost becomes a certain thing that the Mets will play baseball in October, and this is with or without Matt Harvey on the mound.