Matt Harvey may have been summoned, almost out of desperation, from the minor leagues July 26 because the New York Mets had no better alternatives, but the reality is that in a season becoming increasingly lost, the youngster is gaining valuable experience.
In his first start at Citi Field, Harvey didn't come away with the win in a 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves, but he showed the plus makeup manager Terry Collins has lauded since before his promotion.
Right off the bat, the 23-year-old fell behind -- he walked Michael Bourn to leadoff the game, induced a groundout, then gave up a home run to Jason Heyward. Harvey was utilizing his power fastball, which regularly sat in the mid-90s, a bit more in the early going as opposed to using his offspeed stuff, but he had trouble locating it. He walked four in the first two innings but even his strikes were not commanded well. Constantly falling behind hitters, and with his pitch count rising, it looked as if it was going to be a short outing for the right-hander.
Credit to the youngster, however, for settling in after that point. He lasted for four more innings, gave up one more hit, walked one and struck out three. His secondary offerings got sharper as the game when on, but most importantly, he was able to command them in the strike zone. He has the power stuff to succeed, that's easy to see. What's most important is consistently locating. All told, in six innings and just one blemish, Harvey deserved better fate. Except the Mets couldn't solve soft-tossing lefty Paul Maholm, whom they had a .375 against at Citi Field They managed just three hits and struck out five times. It was a listless performance from their hitters.
The loss drops the Mets' record to 54-59, and they'll send Johan Santana, who will make his first start since being placed on the disabled list on July 20, to the hill Saturday.