The ending of the New York Mets game on Wednesday featured a familiar ending as Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to help steal a 3-2 victory for the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field
Disappointing and typical for these 2012 Mets? Sure. But true fans of the team also had to head home on the 7 train with a lot of hope after witnessing Matt Harvey's final start of the season. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander gave up one hit and one run over seven innings to end a campaign that started with a dazzling 11-strikeout debut back in July.
Harvey's shutdown sendoff was so good that at least one teammate was throwing around the name of another star pitcher who was also shutdown this season (though with a bit more media attention and much bigger consequences).
It was an ending of sorts — Harvey said he felt "tingles" leaving the mound after the seventh and called it a "sad moment" — but the Mets see it as a great beginning for a pitcher who could be a potent weapon next season.
"I can't wait to see it," Jonathon Niese said. "He's going to be great. He's going to be great for this organization and its future. To be honest, his stuff is comparable to (Nationals righty Stephen) Strasburg's stuff. He has the velocity. All his stuff is sharp. . . . Just because Stephen Strasburg gets all the hype, doesn't mean Harvey can't have as good stuff as him."
It's not an asinine assertion by any means as both pitchers ended their abbreviated rookie seasons with an identical ERA+ of 139. Strasburg's strikeout rates were higher than Harvey's, but the Mets pitcher also showed so much promise that there's no reason why the two can't be dueling in the NL East for years to come. Even if he's not quite up to Strasburg's level, he showed that he can be the top of the rotation ace a successful Mets future requires.
Here's the comparison of Harvey's 2012 and Strasburg's injury-shortened 2010:
Harvey: 59 1/3 IP, 2.73 ERA, 1.146 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 2.69 K/BB, 139 ERA+
Strasburg: 68 IP, 2.91 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 5.41 K/BB, 139 ERA+
So, yes, there's at least one big reason that Mets fans can head into this offseason feeling genuinely excited. Which is a lot more than you can say for recent winters.