(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – It’s kind of fitting that Matt Harvey would get his first start of the year at Disney World. After all, coming back here in November is his goal this season.
Needless to say he didn’t disappoint.
Three innings with 41 pitches, Harvey allowed one unearned run on three hits. He did get into trouble at times, but was able to pitch out of it.
“It’s good to get back and be facing another team and doing some situations that are tough to do in live batting practice,” he said. “It’s good to get back because it means we are closer to the regular season. There are things I need to work on, but that’s what Spring Training is for.”
More importantly, No. 33 is feeling good about that power slider that raised him into the upper echelon of baseball in 2013. Used lightly last year, he working on making it his out pitch again, which is good news for the Mets and bad news for the rest of baseball.
“I threw quite a bit today,” he said. “I was working on starting off for a strike and threw quite of few of them. I’ve been trying to get different rotation on it.
“It feels right where it needs to be.”
That may sound strange, but having the Tommy John Surgery may make Harvey a better pitcher in the long term. Since he didn’t have the slider last year, he couldn’t fall in love with it like he did in 2013. Instead, he developed his curveball and changeup more.
“This guy is such a power guy when you have a slider like that it’s unhittable,” said manager Terry Collins. “I would like to have him to use his changeup and curveball because those are very effective pitches for him. It’s nice to see that he has that slider.”
Now with two more plus pitches in his arsenal, he could have a deadly combination going into the season.
“He was very sharp early and could have had two easy innings,” Collins said. “He threw the ball great.”
And that’s why everyone is excited in Port St. Lucie this season. The Mets aren’t just good, they will have better players starting from the beginning of the season. Today, you could tell Harvey was working on things, but as the spring moves along, he will start throwing like he does in the regular season and then watch out.
“We know he’s back and we know we know he’s going to be healthy,” Collins said. “As we get into the spring, they are going to put themselves on cruise a little bit.”
However there is still a ways to go before the Mets open in Kansas City.
“As you get older and get into more spring trainings, you realize how long it is,” Harvey said. “There is still a lot of time to go and the goal is pitching in November.”
And that’s the biggest difference between this year and seasons past. Harvey and his teammates are expecting to play up until Election Day, unlike past seasons where competitive Septembers were considered an accomplishment.
With a full strength Harvey leading the way, the Mets will have a serious chance to accomplish a return to the Fall Classic.
Today was just the start and you have to consider it a good day.
Maybe he will be coming back to Disney in November.