It's hard not to be excited about Matt Harvey. After tonight's 7.2-inning, 1-run, 8-strikeout performance he has a 3.00 ERA in 30 big-league innings pitched. More importantly, his K/BB ratio is 34:13. The strong strikeout numbers he posted in the minors have translated to the majors. Plus, his off-speed offerings have impressed. He's not just blowing hitters away with heat, not that there's anything wrong with his 95-mph fastball. Small sample size, yes, but together with Harvey's pedigree and minor league history it's tough to suppress visions of him starring in the Mets rotation for the next [redacted for fear of jinx].
Harvey dominated the Reds tonight, needing just 89 pitches to make it through his 7.2 innings of work, while generating an impressive 14 swinging strikes. He showcased his curveball and slider, generating a combined 10 swinging strikes with the pitches. Harvey did not issue a walk until the final batter he faced. If the dominating performance on the mound wasn't enough, he added a two-run double to deep left-center field in the fourth inning which gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. His Win Probability Added (WPA) for the game was +42.6%. The Mets' combined WPA for the win, as it is for any win, was +50.0%. Harvey the best. Bobby Parnell relieved Harvey and struck out Brandon Phillips with two runners on base to end the eighth inning.
Ike Davis was the Mets' second star of the game, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, an RBI double, and a walk. He put the Mets on the board in the fourth inning with a solo blast off Reds' starter Homer Bailey. Jason Bay is a solid pick for the third star of the game. He too hit a solo homer off Bailey, going oppo in the sixth inning to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. Bay added a single to finish 2-for-5.
This feel-good win was slightly tarnished by Frank Francisco's ninth inning meltdown. He entered the game with an 8-1 lead and departed with the score 8-4. He gave up four hits, including a solo home run to Ryan Ludwick, and gave way to Jon Rauch with two outs and two runners on base. For the second time this week, Rauch struck out the final batter of the game to record a one-out save. Francisco provided some loopy comments to the press after the game:
Asked to assess Matt Harvey's performance, Frank Francisco said, "Who?"— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) August 17, 2012
Big Frank was positively giddy. "I know a lot of good moments are going to come," he said, "so just keep believing in God. He's the man."— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) August 17, 2012
If Francisco is injured he should be put on the DL. If he is healthy and just going through a rough stretch, he should only pitch in low-leverage situations until he gets right again. This much is obvious to everyone.
With tonight's win, the Metsies' record is 56-62. They are nine games out in the wild card race and two games ahead of the Phillies. Next up is a three-game weekend series in Washington against the Nationals. Here are the pitching matchups:
Big winners: Matt Harvey +42.6% (as pitcher and hitter), Ike Davis +10.9%
Big losers: Ruben Tejada -3.6%, Kelly Shoppach -3.2%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Matt Harvey two-run double in the fourth inning +18.8%
Teh sux0rest play: Jason Bay strikeout in the second inning -5.5%
Total pitcher WPA: +30.0%
Total batter WPA: +20.0%
GWRBI!: Ruben Tejada RBI double in the sixth inning