Some Notes From Matt Harvey's Start Tonight

(Bumped from FanPosts -- James)


I tried a little experiment tonight with the rainout and charted Matt Harvey's start against Fort Myers. The Fort Myers radio broadcast was actually pretty good at calling out pitch type and velocity, at least until the PBP guy for the middle innings took over and decided to talk about how good a position their booth is in for catching foul balls, or how good the cinnamon pretzels are at the park, leading to fun exchanges like this: (paraphrasing)

"Fastball by Harvey on the outside corner. That's a strike, 0-1."

"You know, I wanted to go down and grab a pretzel but this game is just too exciting. The pretzels here are great, though."

"Aren't they? If you folks are walking around the stadium listening to us, stop and get a pretzel. Since we can't."

"Well you can go get one before the seventh."

"I might just do that."

"And now Harvey with the 2-2 pitch."

Anyway, Harvey tossed 81 pitches in his 6 innings of work. He was both dominant and efficient through the first 3, getting 5 strikeouts and throwing only 33 pitches total, before laboring a bit for three consecutive 16 pitch innings in the fourth-sixth. He threw 43 strikes against 26 balls with 12 balls in play (couldn't tell strike or ball from the radio broadcast).

His fastball sat at 94-96, topping out at 97 on a fly out to center in the second inning. He was down to 92-93 in the sixth inning, but since they didn't call any velocity on his fastballs in the fifth, I don't know exactly when the velocity dip started. In the fourth inning I have one fastball at 95 and one at 93. He leaned heavily on the fastball all night, and the Miracle batters didn't really seem to know what to do with it and had trouble making good contact.

The announcing team didn't always specify on the off speed stuff, but I have him down for:

5 change-ups at 84-86, getting two swinging strikes (one for a K), a foul ball and two balls;

4 sliders 82-83, 3 called strikes (2 for Ks) and 1 ball; and

2 curveballs, only got velocity for one at 77mph and both were balls.

Overall he had 15 called strikes, six swinging strikes, 16 fouls (a decent amount were check swings or other weak contact, like foul tips) and 6 other strikes that I either missed or weren't called.

His command began to slip the last two innings. He gave up a couple hard singles and a walk in the fifth, before a GIDP got him out of a bases loaded jam. He bounced back in the sixth for 2 more strikeouts but he was generating more foul balls and less swinging or called strikes, possibly because of the velocity dip.

Overall, the Fort Myers announcers were very impressed, suggesting that he is already major league ready and could be up in the majors after he gets stretched out. That seems more than a bit ambitious as tonight he was basically just using his fastball to overpower a line-up with only one real prospect in it (Aaron Hicks). It is clearly a legitimate plus fastball. He was getting a ton of called strikes, (12 on the night on my chart) and it did sound like he was locating it well, (lots of calls of at the knees, on the black, or both) but he clearly still needs to work on his stamina and refining his secondary stuff.

The big test is going to come at AA when he can't always just overpower hitters with his fastball, and his secondary stuff gets put to the test. He was fooling people with the slider, but he didn't throw it a whole lot, and the announcers made note that he seemed to lose his release point on his breaking stuff in the later innings. His two acknowledged curves did miss badly, as well.

Still, it doesn't seem like he has a ton to prove at High A or that it is going to be any kind of serious test for him. I would still leave him there for a half dozen or so more starts though, to keep working on his off speed stuff and to stretch him out while you wait for the weather to get warm in Binghamton. If he is able to generate similar results there, Harvey will very likely start 2012 as the organization's number one prospect. He's polished enough to be a fast mover, though despite what the Fort Myers broadcast team said, I doubt you will see him at Citi Field before September 2012.

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