This is what Matt Harvey always wanted. So, let’s see if he can give the Mets what they need – at least a split in the first two games of the World Series.
With Harvey tonight and Jacob deGrom in Game 2 Wednesday, the Mets are playing their two aces from the outset.
A little over a month ago, Harvey – then embroiled in a controversy about his innings – went into manager Terry Collins’ office and said he wanted the ball, needed the ball. He wanted the shackles off; he wanted to pitch the way he believed he always could.
“I think during all of the stuff that was going on, I wanted to make it clear that I wanted to pitch,’’ Harvey said. “I wanted to be there.’’
The Mets were being dutiful about Harvey’s innings and cutting him back. However, with the Mets on the cusp of the playoffs, and talk swirling whether Harvey will be able to pitch, the No. 1 pick told his manager he didn’t feel ready. Harvey had two more starts remaining and told Collins he needed at least 100 pitches in each to build himself back up.
He made it with flying colors. He beat Cincinnati in the game that clinched the NL East. He wasn’t great, but beat the Dodgers in the NLDS and worked into the eighth against Chicago. The way the Mets have it planned, Harvey will go tonight and Game 5 if needed.
And, should the Mets need him, he’ll be available for Game 7 in relief, just as Madison Bumgarner was last year for the Giants. Bumgarner worked into the eighth in Game 1 against Kansas City; pitched a complete-game shutout in Game 5; then, unbelievably, pitched five scoreless innings in Game 7 for the save.
“The fact that they won, I think anybody wants to do what he did, and getting his team where they did,’’ said Harvey, adding he’s ready to do the same if his number is called.
Collins won’t let him throw 150 pitches tonight – he’s not stupid – but said Harvey will be given the benefit of doubt. If Harvey tells Collins he can go another inning, he’ll get it.
That’s how legacies are made.
ON DECK: Position-by-position comparisons.