For all his self-confidence, and yes, arrogance as well, the best thing Matt Harvey brings to the Mets is the sense that when he pitches, they can win. They last had that feeling in 2006 when Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine took the ball.
Harvey gave that aura in 2013, and it is back.
Harvey is coming off a nine-strikeout performance in his first regular-season start since having Tommy John surgery. The best part was that despite being amped up, there was no pain or discomfort. He will again be pumped up for his return to Citi Field tonight against the Phillies.
“I know he’s excited,” manager Terry Collins said yesterday. “I know the team is excited. And I know the fans are excited.”
Harvey said: “`I don’t want to make a story about it, but it’s obviously exciting to be home.”
But it is a story, and his presence is a big deal to the Mets, who are giving away Matt Harvey T-shirts Friday. Hell, the organization even held back his start until today so it can sell a few more tickets. The gate for tonight is over 30,000.
The organization sees dollar signs when Harvey pitches, but there’s more than that to Harvey, who looks at his starts as artwork. Despite the zeroes and strikeouts last week against the Nationals, Harvey colored too much outside the lines. He knows the need to improve his command.
Harvey reached his pitch count of 90, but in six innings. That must get better for a number of reasons: 1) it shows his command wasn’t always there, and eventually it will catch up to him, and 2) it means more work for the bullpen.
Harvey knows what is expected of him, and more importantly, what he expects of himself.
“I definitely can be a little bit more fine,” Harvey said. “For me, I think 90 pitches through six innings is not good enough. If I’m throwing 90 pitches, I’d like to at least get into the seventh.”
There’s definitely a buzz with these Mets, although it is early. You sense it when you’re in their clubhouse, but talk is cheap.
“We’ve talked a lot about how good we can be,” David Wright said. “But true confidence is in winning.”
And, Harvey gives them the belief winning is attainable.