Tracking Matt Harvey's Season: Start #9

Jonathan Daniel

Matt Harvey had another good outing on Friday in Chicago and still ranks among the best pitchers in baseball.

RESULTS

7.1 IP, 2 R, 6 K, 0 BB, 106 pitches (78 strikes), 66 Game Score

Matt Harvey's start against the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field didn't begin well, as he gave up two runs in the first inning. With runners on second and third and one out, Alfonso Soriano hit an infield single to plate the first run, but the second only came around to score on the play because Ruben Tejada's bounced throw to first base couldn't be handled by Ike Davis. Both runs were charged as earned runs, though the Mets appealed that ruling for the second run over the weekend.

From there, though, Harvey was excellent, allowing only two runners to reach base through the remainder of his seven-and-one-third innings of work.

PITCHf/x DATA (via Brooks Baseball)

Here's a breakdown of how Harvey mixed his pitches in the game:

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Count Strikes / % Whiffs / %
FA (Fastball) 96.39 99.66 43 33 / 76.74% 1 / 2.33%
SI (Sinker) 96.49 97.33 3 2 / 66.67% 0 / 0.00%
CH (Changeup) 87.74 90.55 22 15 / 68.18% 4 / 18.18%
SL (Slider) 90.60 92.74 19 15 / 78.95% 3 / 15.79%
CU (Curveball) 83.44 86.84 19 13 / 68.42% 2 / 10.53%

Harvey used all three of his off-speed pitches frequently and with great results in the start, relying slightly more on his changeup than his slider and curveball. He's throwing the curve a lot more now than he did in the past. Just 9 percent of Harvey's pitches in 2012 were curveballs, but 17.9 percent of his pitches—nearly double last year's rate—were curves on Friday afternoon.

And here's the plot of Harvey's pitches from the game:

As usual, Harvey worked up in the zone plenty, but he didn't generate many swinging strikes in the upper half of the zone in this start. Instead, most of his whiffs came on pitches in the lower half or outside of the strike zone, which makes sense given the fact that he got just one whiff on a fastball and the rest on off-speed pitches.

WHERE HARVEY RANKS IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

With seven weeks of the season in the books, Harvey's still right in the thick of the early race for the National League Cy Young Award. Here's how he compares to his peers.

ERA FIP K% BB% SwStr%
Harvey 1.55 2.21 29.2 6.0 12.4
NL Rank 4th 2nd 2nd 14th 1st
NL Avg. 3.91 3.98 18.8 7.7 8.5

Harvey trails Clayton Kershaw, rookie Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin in ERA. In FIP, he trails only Adam Wainwright.

HARVEY IN METS HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Let's take a look at Harvey's first nine starts this year in comparison to the first nine starts of three of the Mets' previous Cy Young seasons.

Pitcher IP ERA K BB GSc
Matt Harvey (2013) 63.2 1.55 68 14 71
R.A. Dickey (2012) 57.1 3.45 51 16 56
Dwight Gooden (1985) 69.1 1.69 66 18 69
Tom Seaver (1973) 74.1 1.57 61 19 73

Despite having the second-fewest innings pitched of the four seasons here, Harvey still leads in strikeouts. He still has the fewest walks, too. And even though Harvey's ERA went up a bit on Friday afternoon in Chicago, it's still the best of the bunch.

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