As the zeroes piled up, this thought surfaced: Matt Harvey and Cole Hamels in an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. If the Phillies weren’t the only ones with a postseason pulse there would have been real electricity in the air.
As it is, it was something to look forward to.
Harvey gave up a homer to Jimmy Rollins on the game’s fifth pitch, but was lockdown after that, not giving up a hit and striking out seven in seven innings. As we’ve grown accustomed to Harvey’s strong pitching, he probably has grown used to how the game unraveled as the Mets scored two runs – a club-record 15th straight game in which they’ve scored three or fewer runs – and the bullpen imploded again.
This time, it was the heretofore impressive Josh Edgin giving up a game-winning homer to Ryan Howard.
Too bad they had to play nine last night. It would have been special to see the night end when Harvey walked off the mound to a standing ovation after the seventh. It was one of the best moments to this sour season.
“There was definitely some excitement,” a pensive Harvey would say later. “I had some tingles. It was kind of a sad moment, I guess, because I knew I was done. It was a good experience. … I left it all out there.”
Harvey is caught up in the Strasburg Syndrome, and will be shut down for the remainder of the season. It is what the playoff bound Washington Nationals are doing with Stephen Strasburg. It is all done to protect the arms of the pitching prospects.
I understand the logic, but what the Mets and Nationals don’t seem to get is a pitcher’s arm can go at any time. No amount of pampering will help. When it is time, it is time. There are countless names whose careers were a super nova. They all can’t be like Nolan Ryan, who threw high heat into his 40′s before throwing that one last pitch.
The 24-year old, 2010 first-round pick finished the season at 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings. He gave up just 42 hits and 26 walks.
The numbers are only one indicator of what the Mets have. There’s his composure and unwillingness to give in to a hitter. He’s not afraid to throw inside and challenge with his fastball. He’s also been able to throw his breaking and off-speed pitches in traditional fastball counts. While not totally accomplished in that, you just know he’ll get better.
Perhaps above all, he’s been hard on himself when he does make a mistake. He’s willing to learn and willing to work.
“With this being his last start, I wish we would have got a win for him,” manager Terry Collins said. “But Matt Harvey ought to spend the winter feeling pretty good about himself and the way he’s handled everything up here, the way he’s pitched.”