Matt Harvey is set to make his fifth start of the 2013 season on Wednesday night as the New York Mets face the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. He will also be seeking his fifth win of the year to complete a perfect April.
The young ace has been remarkable so far this year and, with each start, he is garnering more attention and bringing larger crowds out to Citi Field. Each successful start also moves Harvey further away from “flash in the pan” status and makes him more of a mainstay in fans’ minds as an elite pitcher.
It is hard to judge a pitcher on just four starts. It is also hard, at this point, to not recognize the fact that Harvey is off to an incredible start. We can all expect that he will have a bad start at some point as all pitchers do, but it is becoming more and more clear that his bad starts will be far outweighed by his great starts.
Is all the hype surrounding Harvey a little over-exaggerated? Maybe. Are the expectations for him to dominate every time out unrealistic? Probably. Are the comparisons he is drawing to the likes of Dwight Gooden and Justin Verlander premature? Definitely.
Fans need to understand that simply comparing statistics for a small sample of starts could put even the most mediocre pitcher in the same conversation with some of the all-time greats. It is the ability to perform at a high level and sustain success over a large sample (think an entire career) that makes those pitchers great.
Harvey is just starting his career. His sustainability remains to be seen, and only time will tell what kind of pitcher he becomes. But, his potential seems limitless and it sure is exciting watching him come into his own and showcase his natural ability.
On Wednesday, Harvey will face Ted Lilly, the Dodgers’ eighth different starter used in their first 20 games. This will be Lilly’s first start of the year after starting the season on the DL, and it could bode well for Harvey as Lilly will most likely still be a bit rusty in his first outing.
Although offensive production has not really been needed in his starts, the Mets have scored a good number of runs behind Harvey, continuing that trend last Friday against the Washington Nationals. They will look to wake up the bats again tonight in aid of Harvey’s possible perfect record for the month.
Harvey has the chance to do something special tonight in addition to starting the season 5-0. He could become the first starting pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to begin a season with five consecutive starts of seven or more innings while allowing one run or less. Harvey currently has an ERA of 0.93 and 32 strikeouts in his 29 innings.
So no matter how Harvey’s career pans out and whatever kind of struggles he faces in the future, he is currently the biggest draw the Mets have had in a while. He seems to do something special each time out and impresses more with each start.
Fans will have to accept that this dominance cannot continue forever, but it is nice to think that anyway. Right now, it is fun and exciting to watch this young talent pitch.