Tuesday evening at Citi Field it was more like Matt Harvey and the New York Mets with growing pains of rebuilding. The Atlanta Braves are in that rebuilding stage and not the perennial team in the National League East, and the Mets know the pains of returning to respectability.
But that pain of getting back to the top culminated with a World Series appearance for the Mets last season. So the Atlanta Braves, and with a process they say will take few more years are aware that opposing Matt Harvey and the New York Mets is a challenge, though one that will work to their advantage.
And with a struggling starter like Harvey trying to figure out what is wrong, the young Braves took advantage. Matt Wisler the Braves 23-year-old right hander matured another step throwing eight innings of one-hit ball leading Atlanta to a 3-0 win, the second time the Mets were shut out at home this young season.
Yes, the Mets will meet some young and good pitching during the course of a long season. Two of their last three losses, Sunday to the not so young Madison Bumgarner and Tuesday night they could not figure out Wisler who improved to 3-1 in four starts against New York. Wisler is what one Atlanta scout described as, “One of the boat load of very young pitchers.”
Isn’t that what they were saying about Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz before they arrived? The Braves have another respectable righthander on the mound Wednesday afternoon in the series finale, and though, Jhoulys Chacin (1-1, 3.27 ERA) does not have the persona of this Mets pitching staff, he is one of those young veterans that helps anchor the staff.
As for Wissler, that was the Braves version of what the Mets have been able to throw effectively at the opposition
“I think that was one of the best outings of my career so far,” he said. On the other side, Harvey was answering questions about what may be wrong with the mechanics after tossing 5.2 innings and not having that high fastball that was intimidating when it approached the plate. The Mets and Collins hope to get the flaws in place soon.
And it does sound familiar to what Collins used to say about Harvey, and what Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez commented regarding his young pitcher.
“He wills himself,” Gonzalez said, once again noticing that Wisler was getting ready for his next start. “This guy doesn’t take anything for granted, I just came in, everybody’s excited, he’s over in the training room doing his exercises. For being a young guy he’s really got good work ethic. He pays attention to detail and he keeps getting better.”
Collins always says that about Harvey, and those young studs who are expected to keep the Mets in the pennant hunt in years to come. Wisler is going through those growing pains with a team that does not supply much offense, as the Braves got one of their runs using the long ball.
Mallex Smith, one of those youngsters hit his first career home run down the left field line in the fifth inning off Harvey, only the sixth for Atlanta this season in their 26 games . The Mets have hit 34, and though hitting the ball hard, it was a rare non home run game off Wisler.
“Heck yeah, I just hit a home run off Matt Harvey,” Smith said in the visitor’s clubhouse but he wasn’t sure at first if it would be. He slid into third base after the ball appeared to not clear the orange line by left field, but a replay challenge gave him his first career round tripper.
He added, “Like who better to hit one off of, you know? Great pitcher, great time to hit it.” Soon to be 23 years of age, Smith is another one of those youngsters the Braves are rebuilding with and that same scout said, “Just like what the Mets had coming along a few years ago.”
Yes, the Mets know about growing pains and rebuilding. And there may be more games like this one and count on Matt Harvey to get those mechanics corrected. Though on this night it was hard to determine who was rebuilding,
But this is baseball, as they say, and as Collins said, “We expect perfection and you’re not going to get it.