July 26, 2012 will be an exciting day in Mets history (hopefully), as the organization's no. 2 prospect, Matt Harvey, will be making his major league debut in Arizona. (The no. 1 prospect being Zack Wheeler.) Drafted 7th overall out of UNC in the 2010 First-Year Player draft, Matt Harvey combines a plus-fastball averaging 94-95 mph (which reaches up to 98-99 mph), with an effective curveball that he uses to induce ground outs, as well as a sinker and slider. His breaking pitches are still raw and need some work, but when pitching at his best, Harvey's curveball is solid, which effectively compliments his fastball. So what can we expect from Matt Harvey in 2012, as a member of the Mets rotation? If he pitches to expectations, Harvey will display his dominance and mound presence, but will have trouble at times with control, and may suffer in high-pressure situations. Harvey will be good at times, but he will also be inconsistent.
Matt Harvey's minors stats (as of 7/26/2012):
|2011||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||13||5||0.722||3.32||2.91||26||26||0||0||0||0||135.2||515||125||56||50||9||47|
Based on the stats depicted in the tables above, three things in particular worry me a bit:
- Through each successive level, Harvey's strikeout rate has decreased, while his walk rate has increased.
- At the same time, while this is happening, his BABIP rate has decreased, which suggests that the regression is even worse than it appears.
- The above two trends are reflected, in part, by the increase in his FIP.
If these trends are any indication, it's probably going to take a while before be breaks out (assuming he does) in the majors. Given everything that has been already said, with the knowledge that Harvey still has some command issues and will likely face obstacles for a few years before finally proving his worth in the majors, it's highly unlikely he will play the "savior" role anytime soon. With that said, I expect a "breakout" from Harvey sometime in late 2014 or 2015. It's not something most of you would like to hear, but we have to accept the reality that awaits.
Here are my predictions for Harvey, for the 2012 season:
As you can see, my expectations of Harvey are not high at all for the 2012 season. Originally, I thought he would do OK, but after seeing those minor league numbers and trends, and also taking into consideration that he has not mastered pitching at the AAA level, I became very bearish on my predictions. Don't call me a pessimist - call me a realist. But if he plays well above these expectations and makes me look like a fool, I'll be a happy fool at that!
Also, consider this: other rookies (min. 40 IP, since 1969) who did badly or terribly FIP-wise who went on to become stars include Greg Maddux (4.50), Mike Hampton (4.53), Frank Viola (4.56), Pedro Martinez (4.57), Dan Haren (4.57), David Price (4.59), Zack Greinke (4.70), Ben Sheets (4.83), Johan Santana (5.26), John Smoltz (5.28), Roy Halladay (5.36), and Vida Blue (6.68). (I left out a number of really good pitchers, too.) In fact, Harvey's first opposing major league pitcher, Wade Miley, had a rookie FIP of 5.08 last year in 2011.
My point is this: don't put too much stock in Harvey's rookie season. He is not being called up as a savior of the Mets for 2012. And now that we look at it from the perspective presented herein, such a notion is ludicrous and absurd. Also, don't put too much stock in my 2012 predictions for Harvey, either. Of all the possibilities that could happen, it's more likely than not that my predictions are well above the median, but not outrageously so.
I'm sure many of you have some rebuttals to my predictions; if Harvey were to see this, he'd definitely be one amongst that crowd: