The New York Mets relied on their starting pitching to carry them through the opening week of the 2017 season. Despite promising debuts for Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom earlier in the week, the Mets could not muster much offense. That changed on Thursday night, as the team notched six runs in a 6-2 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Yet, Matt Harvey‘s performance was the main headline from that game.
It seemed that the Dark Knight had risen. Harvey pitched six and two thirds innings that night, striking out four batters and walking none. He allowed two home runs, but appeared in control of his pitches all night. It is a promising start for Harvey, who struggled to a 4-10 record last season before undergoing season-ending surgery in July.
“Obviously, [I’m] wanting to do everything I can to help this team win, and go as deep as I can into games,” Harvey told Fred Kerber at The New York Post. “That’s what it’s about. I’m pretty happy that tonight was a good first step and I was able to go pretty deep into the game and keep runners off base.”
Manager Terry Collins echoed the same optimism, telling reporters the “main focus” from Thursday’s win was Harvey’s outing. Yes, the offense woke up from their slumber. Travis d’Arnaud kicked things off with a two-run double in the fifth inning. Still, for Harvey to come out in such strong fashion is a great sign for a Mets pitching staff whose depth had been shaken recently.
Harvey’s regular-season debut stands in stark contrast to his Spring Training struggles. The 28-year-old’s first Grapefruit league start saw him surrender four earned runs on four hits against the St. Louis Cardinals. He improved in his second outing on March 10, giving up one run on two hits against the Houston Astros. Harvey labored through his third Spring start, allowing four runs on five hits. His fastball sat between 92-93 miles per hour.
According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey’s fastball topped out at 96.3 MPH on Thursday. He may not throw as hard as he used to. Yet, he does not need to be that hard-throwing pitcher this year. Syndergaard assumed that role last season. As long as Harvey maintains control of his slider, location of his fastball, and bite of his curveball, he should enjoy a solid bounce-back year.
Should Harvey continue these quality starts, he could match his career-high of 13 wins in a season. Right now, though, Harvey is just glad to be back and healthy.
“I remember getting booed off the field last year,” he said. “Kind of flipping that switch a little bit and keep moving forward, it was exciting.”
Jesse Andreozzi is a staff writer at Outside Pitch Sports Network covering the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Jesse_Andreozzi