clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Dark Knight Rises, 10 Years Later: Start #26

August 24, 2013: Harvey goes to battle with the AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer.

Detroit Tigers v New York Mets

Here at Amazin’ Avenue, we’re marking the 10-year anniversary of Matt Harvey’s transcendent 2013 season by spending the year looking back at each of Harvey’s amazing 26 starts that season, one by one, on the anniversary day of each start. We’ll re-live one of the best pitching seasons in Mets history, start-by-start, from its zenith to its tragic end.

We continue today with his 26th and final start at home against the Tigers. You can read about his last start here.


On April 3rd, 2013, Matt Harvey started his season as an interesting, 24-year-old pitcher with an upside most people thought was capped as a number two starter, pitching for a team in an abyss of hopelessness with no path to contention any time soon. 5 months, 25 starts, multiple magazine features, photoshoots, talk show appearances, and an All-Star start later, Matt Harvey was a household name, pitching in the bright lights of the biggest city in the world, and a certified ace to anchor the Mets rotation for years to come.

On August 24th, he would take the mound at Citi Field for his 26th start of the season. It was getting towards late August, and Harvey probably had anywhere from 5-7 more starts left to get through the end of the year and finish off his season. But this was possibly his biggest test to date.

Harvey had faced off against other aces like Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright this season, but on this Saturday afternoon against the Detroit Tigers, he was facing the AL Cy Young favorite, Max Scherzer, who was having a breakout season of his own.

Scherzer had been around since 2009 and was always lauded for having big strikeout stuff, but it took until 2013 for him to really put it together and become an ace. He was running a 2.83 ERA and was striking nearly 30% of hitters he faced on the season coming into the game.

The Tigers rode the exploits of Scherzer and Justin Verlander to a 76-53 coming into this one, but Detroit’s offense wasn’t exactly a cakewalk either. They had a high-powered offense highlighted by 2012 Triple Crown Winner Miguel Cabrera, who had really dropped off in 2013, and was running a measly .356/.447/.681 batting line, which was only good for a 205 wRC+.

This was likely the toughest test Harvey would face all season. He rose to the occasion in basically every other instance, but would he do it again here?

Well, he went to the mound in the first—sporting the bright orange “LosMets” jerseys that the team only wore in that 2013 season—and didn’t look sharp at all. He retired the first hitter of the game, but a hanging slider to Omar Infante and a middle-middle fastball to Cabrera both resulted in singles. Harvey escaped the jam by getting Prince Fielder to fly out to center, and Matt Tuiososopo to bounce out to short to end the threat, but it wasn’t a very convincing first inning for Harvey.

And wouldn’t you know it, it was right back into the fire for him in the second. Andy Dirks led off by lacing a double to right field, and Brayan Pena followed with a bloop single into left-center. Harvey would retire the next batter, but then Scherzer himself squared up a fastball and laced it over shortstop for an RBI single to go up 1-0.

Harvey wasn’t making anyone miss, even the opposing pitcher.

Austin Jackson followed with an infield single that scored another run to go up 2-0. It was the Tigers’ fourth hit of the inning and the sixth Harvey had allowed in just the first two innings.

Even in his lesser starts, Harvey still had stretches during them where he was dominant, or even just stable enough during those starts to get deep. He had yet to take the mound for a start in 2013 and just not have it at all from the beginning, but this was looking like one of those games.

Harvey would get two groundouts to get through that second inning, but again found himself allowing two more singles in the third. He’d get through that inning without allowing a run, even striking out his first batter of the game, but this was really turning into a slog for him.

It should be no surprise that Scherzer was handling the Mets with aplomb on the other side. If Harvey couldn’t right the ship soon, this one had a chance to get ugly.

Thankfully, he did. The top of the fourth was Harvey’s first 1-2-3 inning of the game. Even better, he followed that up with a 1-2-3 top of the fifth as well. He was finally striking some hitters out, too.

Harvey worked around another leadoff single by Dirks to deliver a scoreless sixth, and suddenly, miraculously, had delivered a quality start. He really bared down.

The Mets could not score on a bases loaded opportunity against Scherzer in the bottom half of the sixth, so Harvey went back out for the seventh still trailing 2-0. He was at just 86 pitches to this point, and with how many pitches he threw early on, that was an accomplishment in and of itself.

Harvey, though, stopped making hitters miss again. Even worse, the BABIP gods turned on him. Harvey retired the first hitter of the inning, but then a ground ball hit by Infante got past the lunge of Omar Quintanilla at shortstop and found its way into left field for the Tigers’ 10th hit of the game. Next, a seeing eye hit up the middle by Cabrera once again evaded the glove of the Mets shortstop, and the Tigers had two men on.

Prince Fielder followed, and chopped one on the ground to third that bounced just past a diving Wilmer Flores into left field. Infante was thrown out at the plate for the second out, but that was three straight lucky hits by the Tigers.

Tuiasosopo followed with a roller to first base that just got under the glove of a diving Ike Davis for yet another hit, the fourth in a row off Harvey. Cabrera was stopped at third, and that spelled the end for Harvey after 101 pitches.

Scott Rice would come in and escape the jam by getting a pinch-hitting Torii Hunter to ground out and end the threat.

That closed the book on Harvey. He had gone 6.2 innings and only allowed two earned runs—a quality start—but he allowed a career-high 13 hits. Some of it was clear batted ball misfortune, as 11 of those hits were singles and many of them were on the ground, but Harvey also didn’t really make anybody miss. He only struck out four on the afternoon.

The Mets never got another baserunner for the rest of the game after that. The Mets lost 3-0. Scherzer pitched six innings and only allowed three Mets hits, striking out 11 and walking four. The Tigers ace had pretty clearly out-pitched Harvey.

Of course, Harvey was not himself in this outing. In fact, it had been a while since he had been his usual dominant self. Even with his complete game shutout earlier in the month, Harvey’s 2.97 ERA in the month of August, while still good, was his highest for any month on the season so far. Hitters were batting .277/.297/.308 off him in the month. Nobody was really walking or taking him deep, but all of sudden hitters were making consistent contact against Harvey, which was not usual. His strikeout rate for the month had plummeted to 19.9% after being up near 30% most prior months.

Maybe this was regression. Maybe he was wearing down after a long season in which he was frequently pushed to his limits. Or maybe there was something wrong.

Baseball reference box score