On one hand, the smashing debut didn't really take anyone by surprise. Most of us envisioned the ballyhooed righty dropping into Arizona, piling up a bunch of strikeouts, taking the fantasy community by storm.
We just thought it would be Trevor Bauer, not Matt Harvey.
Ah, yes, Harvey. You've probably seen his debut in some shape or form by now, be it the numbers (5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K) or the jaw-dropping video. Here I am now, entertain me.
So where do fantasy owners go from here? What's Matt Harvey's projection for the rest of 2012? That's the $64,000 question.
And to be fair, no one has the answer. Sandy Alderson doesn't know, Terry Collins doesn't know, Keith Law doesn't know, Ken Jennings doesn't know, Rob Steingall doesn't know, and the Cookie Monster doesn't know. (It pains me to say that. Cookie Monster has been a trusted source for many years.)
Generally it's my nature to be low-key on prospects, especially pitching prospects (maybe I stole that angle from Oscar the Grouch, who thinks every prospect is "crummy"). For every Bryce Harper who clicks right away, you can usually find 10 Brandon Woods and Jeremy Hermidas and Luke Hochevars. Heck, Mike Trout didn't exactly tear up the American League last year. If I'm playing in a non-keeper league and the majority of the owners have a thing for the rookies, I normally step to the side and let them go crazy for the unproven commodities.
But obviously some young players will hit the ground running; some kids will be difference makers right out of the box. And it's not like Harvey came out of nowhere. He was a third-round pick out of high school and the seventh overall pick out of college (the Mets snagged the North Carolina product two years ago). Baseball America tabbed him as the No. 54 prospect before this year. Harvey looks the part, too, a 6-4, 225-pound horse with four interesting pitches (including a gun-popping fastball).
The easy part of my job (and any roto analyst's job) is to tell you to add Harvey now, if you can. That recommendation on its own offers no real value; while we're at it, pick up money you find on the street. I'm also on board with spending resources to get Harvey; I'd use up waiver position on him, and I'd devote a chunk of FAAB for him, too. (League formats vary greatly in setup, so it's a fool's errand to try to provide specific advice in this area. You know your league better than I do. Be aggressive, that's my point.)
But part of the push to add Harvey now is the fact that he's an asset — and not just through what he might do on the mound. You have to view Harvey's flip value as part of his rotisserie value. If you land Harvey one way or another, it's a great time to let your league know that you want to move a pitcher. Let them come to the buzzy rookie name. Let them open up the discussion on what Harvey might be worth. Let them get stardust in their eyes. Make sure they know Harvey is pitching at San Francisco and San Diego (both very good draws) in the next two weeks.
Maybe Harvey is going to dominate the NL for the rest of the year, but it's not like you can't build a "calm down, everyone" case. He only lasted 5.1 innings on Thursday, in part because of the high strikeout count. The Mets have the worst bullpen in the majors. Harvey's numbers were good at Triple-A this year but they weren't untouchably good: he was 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.318 WHIP. The 112 strikeouts are great, but he also walked 48 men. If the Mets fall out of contention decisively over the next few weeks, how many innings will they let the 23-year-old throw? He's already at 115.1 for the season.
Here's the bottom line: I like Harvey enough to add him to any roster ASAP, even at the expense of waiver position or FAAB dollars. I'll throw resources at him. But the moment I acquire someone unproven but intriguing, my next goal is simple: let's try to locate the owners who value him more than I do. Let's see how flippable this guy is.
And if all else fails, you can always go back to Cookie Monster.
• The other snappy debut of the night belonged to Starling Marte, the new Pittsburgh leadoff man and left-fielder. He cranked a homer on the first pitch he saw and later added a single. An overzealous moment on the bases led to a pickoff. He made contact in all four at-bats, bully for him. Unfortunately, every starting pitcher Marte meets in the show is probably going to be better than Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel.
I won't go too in depth with Marte because we discussed him Thursday afternoon in this space. He's probably going to stick in Pittsburgh all year (their left-field production has been the worst in baseball) and you like him slotted atop this resurgent offense (the Bucs have outscored every NL team over the last two months). The outfield Shuffle Up is in production as we speak; look for Marte to land somewhere in the $9-12 range. An intriguing player and an easy grab in medium and deep pools, but not an automatic pickup in all formats.
• We stream, therefore we are. Wandy Rodriguez is still out there in some pitching-snobbery leagues, and he's up against Houston on Saturday night. This could be a rent-to-own play. Jeff Samardzija (41 percent) has been up and down this year, but I'll give him a shot, even against St. Louis. And maybe you can talk yourself into Chad Billingsley (48 percent) at San Francisco, though I find him a difficult watch. At least he's up against ordinary Barry Zito, not one of the Bay Area aces.
I'm not going to Mike Minor (21 percent) against Philly, been burned too many times in the past. The moment of relevance came and went on Bartolo Colon (16 percent). Anibal Sanchez shouldn't be trusted at Toronto. If you have different feelings on the Saturday slate, share them in the comments.
• It's all hands (and all handshakes) on deck in Milwaukee, where manager Ron Roenicke is prepared to run with a committee for a while. It's a logical move given what's happened in the last two weeks; John Axford had a breakdown, and replacement Francisco Rodriguez turned out to be even worse. I still see Axford as the only viable play in this bullpen, and I think eventually he'll get the baton to himself.
• Tommy Milone rolled a couple of breaking pitches in the YYZ and got hit with a tax (8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 HR), but there's no need to panic on this guy. It was one of those "good bad outings" if you look at the full picture — he worked seven innings, struck out seven batters, didn't walk anyone.
Milone's next two turns are back in the forgiving confines of Oakland, where he has a 0.91 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. While those ratios obviously have to be seen as outliers, he nonetheless should fare well against Tampa Bay next week, and in the rematch with the Blue Jays after that. We're in it for the long haul with Mayday Milone.
• The Rockies are starting three ordinary southpaws in Coors Field this weekend, so it might be a good time to dial up some right-handed pop from the Cincinnati dugout. Can I interest you in Ryan Ludwick, perhaps? Is this the weekend Drew Stubbs owners relax their fear and self-loathing? I'm not going to offer a pitch on Todd Frazier; you should know all about him by now.