Jul 11

Harvey Pitches, And Hits, Above Expectations

If Matt Harvey keeps having more days like today he could buy his own jet … even afford to take a helicopter from his Manhattan apartment to Mets’ games.

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

HARVEY: Plays like a star. (AP)

Harvey had one of those games like in high school, where he struck out nine Arizona Diamondbacks and hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ 4-2 victory.

It was a strong effort in a frustratingly erratic first-half for Harvey.

“For me, flushing the first half and going back out the second half with a fresh start is something I’m looking forward to,’’ Harvey told reporters. “There were ups and downs obviously – after the hot start, more ups and downs than I expected or wanted.’’

Harvey finished the first half with an 8-6 record, but the most important number were his 111.1 innings. He’s on pace for 205 innings, which is more than what GM Sandy Alderson wanted. But, that doesn’t include the playoffs, which is the ultimate goal.

Can you imagine the outcry should the Mets actually make it, but have to shut down Harvey. You think he complains now? That’s why the innings Harvey needlessly pitched in April when the Mets blew chances to rest him can’t be overlooked.

Of course this puts the six-man rotation issue back into the forefront. With Steven Matz down for at least five weeks – don’t forget he’ll have to go on a minor league rehab assignment when he’s cleared – the Mets must decide whether they’ll use Logan Verrett or Dillon Gee for the sixth spot or scrap their innings limitations.

It wasn’t a good start for Harvey, who walked four, but settled into a groove to with his eighth game. It was an effort the Mets have been waiting a long time to see.

Harvey has thrown hard this year coming off Tommy John surgery, but what usually happens in the first season back from the procedure is a lack of command.

That manifests itself not only in walks – nine in his last two starts – but also in home runs allowed.

He gave up a two-run homer to David Peralta in the first inning, but regrouped.

“I really wanted to do everything I could to keep the team within striking distance,’’ Harvey said. “When you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 2-0 and you only faced two batters, the last thing you want to do is keep that rolling. I really just had to buckle down and try to pound the zone as much as possible.’’

Which he did, marvelously so.

 

Jul 10

Matt Harvey Misses The Point … Again

Trust me, I don’t hate the Mets’ Matt Harvey. It’s just he does and say things making it hard to like him or give him the benefit of doubt at times.

On the Mets’ West Coast trip, Harvey rented a private jet to go to the Post Ranch Inn resort located in Big Sur, Calif. To break away from the team on a road trip, Harvey needed permission from Terry Collins, the manager he undercut last Saturday when he moaned about the six-man rotation.

While on the jet, Harvey posted a photo of him to Instagram. It’s his money, and he can do with it what he wants. However, instead of staying with the team and trying to come up with a solution on what to do with that extra day, Harvey thought it would be a good idea to go big time as, “superstars’’ sometimes like to do.

Only, Harvey is no superstar. Harvey seemingly forgets he has a lifetime 19-16 record, which isn’t exactly superstar stuff. He is, 19-16 lifetime, so spare me the indignation of your comments telling me Harvey is the Mets’ future. We don’t really know that, but we can guess he’ll bolt the Mets when he becomes a free agent.

Does anybody really believe Harvey won’t listen to a pitch from the Yankees.

When you go on social media to boast living the high life when you’re only 7-6 this year, you take the risk of getting roasted, which is what happened.

Not getting it, the thin-skinned Harvey took to Instagram again to post another photo of himself landing in New York on the Mets’ charter, with this message: “Just landed back in NYC on `THE TEAM FLIGHT’ WITH THE TEAM.’’

Harvey, don’t forget, had a photo of himself coming out of Tommy John surgery flipping the bird to his critics. Then, to emphasize his disdain for his critics – which are growing – by having a snow globe of an extended middle finger in his locker. Total class. Can you in your wildest dreams ever think Tom Seaver would have done anything remotely arrogant?

No, I don’t hate Harvey, but right now he’s awfully difficult to like. It’s not my responsibility to be Harvey’s cheerleader. There are enough of you out there who swallow his arrogance to do that. My responsibility to you is to call it as I see it and this is what I see.

If don’t agree, I can live with that.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.

Jun 11

Harvey Stand Up About Falling Down

The best thing the Mets’ Matt Harvey did Wednesday night was not offer excuses for his mauling by the Giants.

There are explanations for everything, but Harvey wouldn’t say the three home runs crushed by the Giants or his second seven-run outing in his last four starts, was the result of Tommy John surgery.

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

HARVEY: Real Harvey camouflaged. (AP)

“This is Major League Baseball,’’ Harvey told reporters moments after suffering his fourth loss of the season. “You can’t hit your spots, you can’t mix things in well, you’re not going to do your job very well.

“I just have to be better. There’s no excuses to be made. My job is to go out and put up zeroes. I’m not doing that very well. Right now I’m just not executing anything.’’

Normally a strikeout machine, Harvey had only only two last night. Harvey is throwing hard enough, but a product of Tommy John surgery is his pitches weren’t darting; the movement he normally has wasn’t there.

Of the three, location, movement and velocity, speed is the least important. Harvey is usually in the strike zone, but has little movement in it. That makes him easier to hit.

“Everything was all over the place,’’ Harvey said. “I just tried to go a certain place and couldn’t do it. The ball was over the middle or high. … I’m just not doing my job very well.’’

Harvey said he feels fine physically and wouldn’t bite on surgery as being an out.

“It’s just a terrible performance,’’ Harvey said. “The last couple of starts have been extremely bad. I’m just not getting it done, not helping the team in any way. Something needs to change. I need to go to square one.’’

He already took the first step by not having any alibis. Good for him.

 

Jun 10

Giants Light Up Dark Knight

Another game, another bunch of homers hit – no, make that crushed – off the Mets’ Matt Harvey.

The Giants looked comfortable in slugging three homers off Harvey and ripping him for seven runs. It was the second time in four starts he was blistered for seven runs.

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

HARVEY: Ripped again. (AP)

Harvey (now 6-4 with a 3.62 ERA) has given up 12 homers and 24 extra-base hits overall in 12 starts. After Harvey was rocked for 11 runs in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Miami, manager Terry Collins suggested the problem was a dead arm.

Harvey quickly dismissed that stock theory for when a pitcher gets torched a couple of times, which made sense because he was clocked in the mid-90s and including the Marlins game, threw over 100 pitches in back-to-back starts.

So, what’s the problem? Why has Harvey given up eight homers in his last four starts, after giving up eight homers in his previous 26?

First, consider Wednesday was Harvey’s 48th career start, which puts him in the equivalent of his second full season, which is when the real learning takes place. And, don’t forget, the hitters are learning, too.

We also must remember he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and perhaps his arm isn’t what he would want. His breaking pitches, in particular his slider, don’t have the same bite they had in 2013 when he was an All-Star and achieved cult status.

We must also look at his walks. He’s only walked 14, which is a great stat, but it also means his pitches are usually in the strike zone. Although he still throws hard, Harvey must recognize he can’t get by simply throwing heat. It also suggests his pitches, although thrown hard, don’t have the darting movement needed.

Knowing Harvey’s control is exceptional; hitters don’t hang around to fall behind in the count. Harvey has given up three homers on the first pitch (overall hitters are batting .450 off him on the first pitch). He’s also given up five homers after being behind 1-0 in the count.

So, it isn’t just one thing, but several contributing factors to why hitters are lighting up the “Dark Knight.’’