Tracking Matt Harvey's Season: Start 22 — GIFs and Data from Harvey's eight-strikeout performance in Miami

Marc Serota

Even in a relatively bad start, it's pretty clear that Matt Harvey is, indeed, better.

Matt Harvey's twenty-second start of the year in Miami on Thursday afternoon wasn't his best, though he carried a shutout through five innings, struck out eight, walked none, and allowed three runs in 5.2 innings in total. He threw 110 pitches, one of his less efficient outings of the year, and notched a game score of 55. He's only had three starts this year with a lower game score than that, one of which also came against the Marlins.

PITCHf/x DATA (via Brooks Baseball)

Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Count Strikes / % Whiffs / %
FA (Fastball) 97.25 99.55 60 42 / 70.00% 7 / 11.67%
SI (Sinker) 96.87 97.94 6 4 / 66.67% 0 / 0.00%
CH (Changeup) 88.00 88.88 7 4 / 57.14% 0 / 0.00%
SL (Slider) 91.65 93.25 28 14 / 50.00% 6 / 21.43%
CU (Curveball) 85.38 87.36 9 7 / 77.78% 0 / 0.00%

With a handful of exceptions, Harvey was a two-pitch pitcher in this start. He relied heavily on the fastball, as he usually does, but he threw his slider far more frequently than his curveball or changeup. There have been starts this year in which all four of Harvey's pitches worked very well, but that wasn't the case here. A below-average day for Harvey is, of course, not that bad compared to other starting pitchers. The swinging strike rate on his slider—21.43 percent—was still ridiculously good.

The strike zone plot below shows where Harvey threw his pitches. In his best starts, the pitch locations on this chart have been more tightly grouped. In this start, his misses crossed the plate far outside of the zone.

GIFs

Strikeout 1: Adeiny Hechavarria, swinging

Strikeout 2: Ed Lucas, looking

Strikeout 3: Donovan Solano, swinging

Strikeout 4: Jake Marisnick, swinging

Strikeout 5: Jeff Mathis, swinging

Strikeout 6: Logan Morrison, swinging

Strikeout 7: Jake Marisnick, looking

Strikeout 8: Giancarlo Stanton, swinging

WHERE HARVEY RANKS IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

The story here is basically the same: Harvey trails Clayton Kershaw for the National League lead in ERA, but his 2.00 FIP is the best among starting pitchers in all of baseball. In the NL, his closest competitor in FIP is Adam Wainwright, whose 2.27 FIP trails Harvey by a significant margin. Over his last few starts, Harvey's walk rate has gotten better, and it was already good before the recent stretch. Matt Harvey is basically the best pitcher in baseball, but he'll probably need to catch Kershaw in ERA to win the Cy Young.

ERA FIP K% BB% SwStr%
Harvey 2.21 2.00 29.8 5.0 12.8
NL Rank 2nd 1st 1st 9th 1st
NL Avg. SP 3.88 3.82 19.0 7.4 8.7

HARVEY IN METS HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Each of the four Mets pitchers below fared well in his twenty-second start of the season. Since R.A. Dickey pitched in the most similar environment to Harvey, it's particularly impressive that Harvey has kept a better pace than the erstwhile Mets knuckleballer.

Pitcher (Year) IP ERA K BB GSc
Matt Harvey (2013) 150.2 2.21 172 29 66
R.A. Dickey (2012) 153.1 2.82 156 36 62
Dwight Gooden (1985) 170.2 1.74 163 45 69
Tom Seaver (1973) 178.2 1.96 155 40 68
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