No Pressure: Matt Harvey Starts For Buffalo Tonight

No pressure, Matt.

While the Mets are off this evening, SNY will broadcast the Bisons' game, which features starting pitcher Matt Harvey, at 7:05 pm EDT. As you have undoubtedly already heard, Harvey is a candidate to take Dillon Gee's spot in the Mets' starting rotation.

After the Mets were swept in Atlanta this weekend, plenty of attention will be paid to Harvey's start tonight. Mets fans could use a bright spot right now, even though the team is still just 3.5 games off the wild card pace.

The Mets are attempting to balance the present and the future. Before the news about Gee's blood clot and surgery broke, Sandy Alderson appeared on SNY and had this to say about Harvey:

But if we have a need, I think Matt Harvey’s getting closer, and I think we may see a convergence between his development and our need at some point. I think the fact that he’s pitched so well over the first part of the season, and we haven’t had the need at this point bodes well. But at the same time, I think if we get a month down the road he certainly could be a viable option for us.

With Gee on the shelf for the foreseeable future, and possibly for the rest of the season, the Mets' need for a starting pitcher came a lot sooner than Alderson would have probably preferred.

On paper, Harvey looks like he's just about ready for his debut with the Mets. The 23-year-old right-handed pitcher has a 9.34 K/9, 3.84 BB/9, 3.39 ERA, and 3.45 FIP in 18 starts with Buffalo this year. All of his rates have taken a slight hit as he advanced up the Mets' minor league ladder, but he has seemingly handled each stop without any major setbacks in his performance.

There's a whole lot of upside to bringing Harvey up now. He would be a lot more exciting than the likes of Miguel Batista and Jeremy Hefner, and even if he were to just match what Gee had done over the first half of the season, he would be a significant contributor in the Mets' attempt to shock the league and claim a postseason spot for the first time since 2006.

On the downside, however, Harvey's service-time clock would start, and he would be exposed to the best hitters baseball has to offer, though not immediately since his first start would come against the Dodgers. There's no bigger jump in baseball than the one to the major leagues.

But given the circumstances, calling up Harvey this week would be a reasonable, non-panic move for the Mets. All eyes will certainly be on Harvey tonight, and judgments about Harvey will probably be made no matter what the outcome of the game. His status as a pitching prospect absolutely shouldn't hinge upon just one start, but for a few hours tonight, it will feel as if it's the case. If Dillon Gee were still in the starting rotation, this would just be another start in Harvey's development, but it feels like he's trying to pass the pitching prospect's equivalent of the bar exam when he takes the mound tonight in Buffalo.

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