clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2015 Mets Season Preview: Matt Harvey

The Mets' best pitcher was nothing short of excellent in spring training and could pick up right where he left off in 2013.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Harvey is pretty much the best. Picked by the Mets in the first round of the 2010 draft, Harvey rose through the Mets’ minor league system fairly quickly, though he didn’t garner as much attention as a prospect as some other pitching prospects at the time. When he got his shot in the big leagues, though, Harvey was dominant.

In ten starts late in the 2012 season, Harvey had a 2.73 ERA and a 3.30 FIP. He struck out 70 opponents while walking just 26 in 59.1 innings of work. And while those numbers were nothing to sneeze at, he got considerably better in 2013. His strikeout rate remained excellent, and his walk rate dropped significantly. On top of that, he gave up just 0.4 home runs per nine innings, the best mark in baseball among qualified starting pitchers. That combination helped him put together a 2.27 ERA, which was among the best in the game, and a 2.01 FIP, which was the best. For a while, he was hanging right with Clayton Kershaw as a contender for the National League’s Cy Young award.

Of course, Harvey’s season came to an early end, and he ultimately needed Tommy John surgery. Given the timing of the surgery, it never seemed like the Mets were going to rush to get Harvey back on a major league mound late in the 2014 season, and given the way things went for the team last year, remaining cautious with him made plenty of sense. Now seventeen months removed from his surgery, Harvey is set to make his return on Thursday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

If spring training was any indication, Harvey might pick up right where he left off before the injury. The numbers were a little absurd in Grapefruit League games, and those games don’t count. But Harvey’s control was impressive, especially considering that many pitchers who come back from Tommy John have a hard time with it out of the gate. And as Mike Vorkunov pointed out recently, the Mets' internal metrics—things like spin rate—have been even fonder of Harvey's pitches this spring than they were in his dominant 2013 season.

There’s quite a bit of optimism surrounding the Mets this year, and Harvey’s return is a very significant part of it. If he looks as good in regular season games as he did in spring training games—which generally sounds ridiculous but somehow seems possible for Harvey—the Mets should at least be able to hang around the Wild Card race.