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Matt Harvey, bullpen shut out Phillies

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It was a good start to 2018 for Harvey.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

This was an important start for Matt Harvey to turn the page on two lost seasons, and the results were promising in a 2-0 win over the Phillies. Harvey’s fastball sat between 91-93 mph, but he used it effectively and was still able to pick up five strikeouts in five innings of work.

WIN, 2-0

Mickey Callaway put together an interesting lineup considering Harvey is more of a contact pitcher now. Jose Reyes got his first start at shortstop and Brandon Nimmo returned to centerfield after sitting out the last game with flu symptoms. The first real trouble Harvey ran into was when Reyes committed an error on a ground ball by pitcher Ben Lively in the third. Lively moved to second on a wild pitch, but Harvey worked around the trouble when he got Cesar Hernandez to strike out and Carlos Santana to foul out.

Harvey made it through the Philadelphia order two times unscathed, but with his spot in the lineup coming up in the bottom of the fifth, Callaway pinch hit for him and his night was done after 86 pitches. It was a solid start for Harvey and certainly a hopeful one for what he can accomplish going forward this season. Without his best stuff, he pitched up in the zone where the best the Phillies could do was pop the ball up. He was by no means dominant, but he was able to get outs and that will certainly play from your fourth starter.

The sixth inning is where this game got interesting. When Mickey Callaway was hired he had some unconventional ideas about bullpen usage. With the top of the Phillies’ lineup coming up, Callaway went to “setup” man AJ Ramos to face Philadelphia’s best hitters. Ramos did allow the first two batters to reach base, but he got the next two out before giving way to Jerry Blevins to face lefty Odubel Herrera. Blevins made quick work of Herrera and the Mets were out of the inning.

In the opposite dugout, manager Gabe Kapler has been under fire with his decisions so far this season. He raised eyebrows when he took ace Aaron Nola out of a game after only 68 pitches on Opening Day, but here he let Ben Lively pitch into the sixth. Lively looked great on the mound but he hit Yoenis Cespedes to start the inning. With Jay Bruce up the shift was put on. Bruce hit into the shift but nobody was there to cover second. Scott Kingery stayed by third so Cespedes couldn’t pull a Murph and run to third unimpeded, and with both Hernandez and J.P. Crawford on the right side of the diamond, neither could get to the second base bag in time for the out.

With a potential double play avoided, Todd Frazier doubled home Cespedes for the Mets’ first run. After Adrian Gonzalez grounded out for the second out of the inning, Travis d’Arnaud made it 2-0 when he singled home Frazier.

Now with the lead, Seth Lugo entered the game. He was originally supposed to get the start but since yesterday’s game got snowed out he was moved to the bullpen. Lugo certainly earned a spot in the rotation this spring and he reminded everyone why in his relief appearance. He was flawless in two innings of work and struck out four.

Jeurys Familia came in for the ninth inning to finish off the win but he was less impressive. He walked the leadoff batter and then found himself in a first and third situation with one out. He eventually picked up the save when Kingery popped up and Andrew Knapp grounded out to end the game.

With Gabe Kapler and Mickey Callaway facing off in opposite dugouts, it is easy to compare the two even if it is early in the season. Kapler’s decisions have invited scrutiny so far this season, whereas with Callaway he keeps pressing all of the right buttons, the Reyes decision notwithstanding. Removing Harvey proved to be a good decision with the bullpen backing him up. Even on a dreary night at Citi Field there were some bright spots to take away from this one.

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Win Probability Added

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Matt Harvey +27.3%, Seth Lugo +13.7%
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Todd Frazier double in sixth
Teh sux0rest play: Odubel Hererra single in ninth
Total pitcher WPA: +55.2%
Total batter WPA: -5.2%
GWRBI!: Travis d’Arnaud