There have been a number of pleasant surprises for the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Danny Muno, John Mayberry Jr., Johnny Monell, and Matt Reynolds are just a few players who have enjoyed strong springs. In the case of Monell, Muno, and Reynolds, their robust Grapefruit League numbers have opened eyes around the organization, if nothing else. Of course spring training numbers, both good and bad, need to be taken with a large grain of salt. But if the Mets succeed in reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the beginning of the road can be traced to March 6, 2015, the day Matt Harvey made his long-awaited return.
The start against the Tigers kicked off a six-start Grapefruit League slate for Harvey that even the most optimistic fan could not have expected. The right-hander finished his spring with a 1.19 ERA, 17 hits allowed, 21 strikeouts, and one walk in 22.2 innings. Harvey didn't issue a free pass in his last four outings, displayed remarkable crispness on all of his pitches, and consistently reached the mid-90s with his fastball, topping out at 99 miles per hour in his first start.
More important than the stats themselves is how strong Harvey has looked. There has been no tentativeness, no trepidation, no hesitancy. The Mets already expect to have their hands full reining in the 26-year-old in 2015. A spring where Harvey showed he hasn't missed a beat will only make the task to keep him in check that much harder. Now Harvey moves on to the regular season, where he seems set to tear through the league beginning with his first start in Washington on April 9 opposite Stephen Strasburg.
The Mets couldn't have asked for anything more from their ace this spring. His excellence after 19 months of non-competitive pitching surely caused many jaws to drop around the baseball world. No one expected this level of domination so quickly. No one except Harvey himself.