If Matt Harvey is as good as advertised, there will be many more nights like tonight, with him going against another’s ace.
The expectations of Harvey is he will become the anchor of the Mets’ rotation for years to come, picking up along the way a Cy Young Award or two, numerous All-Star appearances, and in the best case scenario, nights of glory in October.
It would be fun if that unfolds, but before we get lost in the future, let’s appreciate the present, which is Harvey against Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.
It shouldn’t be lost tonight is more than a marquee pairing of franchise arms, but for the Mets the need to shake a three-game funk in which their rotation and bullpen were hammered by the Colorado Rockies.
Harvey has known of this for a week, and had a good four hours on a plane last night from Denver to contemplate tonight. Not only of the Nationals’ potent line-up, but the electricity in the stands about the duel and expectations of him being “the real deal,’’ and rescuing this summer.
The scouting report on Harvey is not only about his plus-stuff, but his demeanor and poise. Harvey is very much aware what awaits him tonight, and most importantly, relishes the moment. He has confidence without the cockiness.
“He knows exactly who he is facing,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters in Denver before the Mets lost their third straight game against the Rockies.
“He’s one of these guys who says, `I’ll take the next game.’ He knows what’s going on and who he is facing. … I know he will be ready.’’
Fifteen games into the season and already the Mets are facing a pivotal moment. If they lose tonight, Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee are up next, and who can’t envision three losses spiraling into six? Who can’t imagine the Mets losing control of their season before the kids are out of school for the summer?
Hey, with their bullpen and back end of the rotation, the Mets could lose their summer before the Kentucky Derby.
The Mets are 7-7, which honestly exceeded spring training expectations. However, the expectations are greater than competing for the playoffs, but instead striving for respectability and relevance. Catching the Braves and Nationals will be for another year.
Statistically, Harvey has three of the Mets’ victories with a microscopic 0.82 ERA. He has given up six hits and six walks with 25 strikeouts in 22 innings. And, he’s done it when the belief was he wouldn’t have given the Mets anything less.
Collins said Harvey covets the big stage. He wants the ball. And, when he gets it tonight, he’ll know what to do.