Welcome back, old friend. With memories of his 2012 and 2013 dominance still fresh in their minds, Mets fans greatly anticipated the return of ace Matt Harvey from his Tommy John surgery. After watching Jacob deGrom bloom into a borderline star in Harvey's absence, the combination of the two pitchers appeared as if it would portend to good things for the Mets' rotation and those expectations ultimately proved correct.
Harvey flashed his sparkling fastball and showed surprisingly strong control in his spring training starts and that immediately transferred over the regular season, where he held the Nationals to just 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 9 in his season debut. Through his first 8 starts, Harvey had a stellar 1.98 ERA and a 56:8 K:BB rate in 54.2 innings before hitting a bit of a late-May, early-June rough patch.
Powering through that and a few other rough spots where his command faltered, Harvey put together a fantastic season for a pitcher returning from such a long layoff. In sum, he wasn't as dominant as he was in 2013 but few pitchers reach those heights in general and on the optimistic side, he certainly showed flashes of that guy. He finished the year with a 2.71 ERA and a 3.05 FIP over 189.1 innings, while striking out 188 batters and walking just 37. By Baseball Reference's measure of WAR, he was worth 4.3 wins which was good for 9th best in the National League. Additionally, Harvey looked great in the postseason, despite blowing well beyond 200 innings.
It's the innings, of course, which became a huge debate in September and unfortunately will probably be something that Harvey is remembered for long beyond 2015. In early September, Harvey, likely at the urging of his agent Scott Boras, decided that he'd tell everyone he was going to shut it down for the season after 180 innings. This came despite the original plan being for him to pitch through the end of the season and the postseason, should the Mets make it there. Harvey unsurprisingly was killed for such a decision by both the media and fans, which forced him to reconsider his stance.
Thankfully, everything ended up working out for Harvey but his relationship with the team will certainly be something to monitor going forward. In 2015, however, Harvey successfully made it back to the mound and was still one of the best pitchers in the league. That's a great sign for the Mets going forward, especially if an extra year removed from Tommy John surgery can help him regain the form of two years ago in 2016. That would be quite the development for the Mets' already star-studded young rotation.