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Mets vs. Braves recap: Matt Harvey excellent in season debut as Mets take series

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Harvey looked great, and the Mets scored six runs to defeat the Braves.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The baseball season can be a little weird. After several weeks of exhibition games, you get to April, and the games really count. But since you know that spring training stats are meaningless, you don’t know what to make of a season until they’ve been playing real games for a while.

All of that makes it impossible to draw conclusions about anything at all. But it’s not hard to dream on what might go right when the team or some of its specific players look really good in the third game of the season. And Matt Harvey looked very, very good.

WIN, 6-2

This wasn’t a vintage Harvey start. His velocity wasn’t in the upper 90s like it often was earlier in his career, and he struck out four Braves hitters in six-and-two-thirds innings, a relatively low amount based on his past performance. But that didn’t really matter, as he kept his pitch count low, threw strikes, and mostly didn’t have to pay for doing so. Maybe that won’t play quite as well against some of the National League East’s better teams—the entire first month of the Mets’ schedule features in-division opponents—but the Braves’ lineup shouldn’t be written off as nothing.

There were just a couple of blemishes on Harvey’s record for the night: solo home runs hit by Matt Kemp in the fifth and seventh innings. The later of the two made Terry Collins call it a night for Harvey, but the sour note upon which his start ended wasn’t really that much of a low.

It helps, of course, that the Mets looked more like their Opening Day selves than the team that lost on Wednesday night. It took a few innings to get things going, but with one Kemp home run in the books, Travis d’Arnaud drove in two runs with a double that he ripped to the gap in left-center in the bottom of the fifth.

In the following innings, Braves starter Jaime Garcia made the mistake of walking Yoenis Cespedes, which might be a desirable thing to do if someone other than lefty killer Wilmer Flores weren’t standing on deck. And Flores took advantage of the opportunity by hitting a home run to left field that put the Mets up by three.

From there, the Mets tacked on a couple of runs in the seventh, and their bullpen—Jerry Blevins, Fernando Salas, and Addison Reed—didn’t allow any runs to score. Salas got into a jam, thanks to a pair of infield singles that were separated by an out, but struck out Dansby Swanson to get out of it.

You try not to overreact to the early results, but it’s pretty easy to take a 2-1 start to the Mets’ season and go with it. The inverse record wouldn’t have been a death sentence, but taking the first series of the season makes things feel right.

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Box scores


Win Probability Added


What’s WPA?

Big winners: Travis d’Arnaud, +25.2% WPA, Matt Harvey, +16.0% WPA
Big losers: none
Teh aw3s0mest play: Travis d’Arnaud hits a two-run double in the fifth, +27.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Matt Kemp hits the first of his solo home runs in the fifth, -15.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +20.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +29.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Wilmer Flores