COMMENTARY | When New York Mets fans think about Matt Harvey, they get butterflies in their stomachs. You know, the ones you get when your prom date walks down the stairs in her gorgeous gown and you think to yourself, "This is going to be a good night."
That is what Mets fans feel when the newly proclaimed Dark Knight of Gotham takes the mound. Once every five days, fans in Queens are hopeful of what is to come. The mid-to-upper-90s fastball mixed with a wipeout slider that had made some more than capable hitters look silly. It is the highlight of our week -- and that is exactly the problem. He is the only one who throws a baseball worth watching.
Do not get me wrong, I am just excited about Matt Harvey's development and rise to the top of MLB pitching charts as anyone. My problem is: He can only pitch, well, once every five days. The kid cannot do it all by himself but early in the season, he has for New York.Terry Collins was hamstrung from the start with the injury to Johan Santana before the start of the season and that has set the Mets' rotation up to fail. That is, except for Matt Harvey.
Harvey tossed the first 10 starts of his big-league career late in 2012, and he was more than adequate. His record was just 3-5, but the 2.73 ERA was impressive nonetheless. More than anything else, he suffered from a lack of run support.The 24-year-old flamethrower has kicked it up a notch for his first full season in the big leagues. He has us thinking he's Doc Gooden without the off-the-field issues. We are even hearing whispers that another Tom Seaver has arrived in Flushing. In his first nine starts, Harvey is a perfect 5-0 with a miniscule 1.55 ERA, which is fourth among all starting pitchers. Don't forget the WHIP -- never forget the WHIP. The Amazin's #33 is only allowing 0.72 walks per innings pitched, good for tops in the majors. Harvey has gone seven-plus innings in seven of nine starts this season and has more strikeouts than innings pitched.
Now that we have laid it out on the table, let's get a look at the rest of that rotation.
To contrast Harvey's outstanding 5-0 start, the other four starters for the Mets are a combined 5-17. That includes 0-5 Jeremy Hefner and 0-4 Shaun Marcum (although one loss came in relief). Hefner may not even belong in the major leagues and if he does, it is as a No. 5 starter and nothing more. In addition, the Mets have lost all eight games that Hefner has pitched. If that isn't a sign, I don't know what is.
Marcum was a flight risk due to his injury history, but the Mets nabbed him and it just hasn't worked out. His first three starts of the season, he gave Terry Collins a whopping 13 innings pitched (that's 4 1/3 per inning for anyone who is counting). The aforementioned relief loss came in the 15th inning in Miami, by the way. The Mets took a lead into the bottom of the inning, and Marcum proceeded to blow it.
Dillon Gee is someone the Mets were hoping to see turn a corner in 2013. So far, it has not happened as he has pitched to a 6.04 ERA while amassing an unimpressive 2-5 record. Gee is getting battered early in the season and look no further than the .326 batting average against him. He has also taxed the bullpen, failing to pitch more than six innings since his first start of the year. Each of the last four has been five innings or less.
The biggest letdown for Mets fans so far is Jonathan Niese. Last year looked like a sign of good things to come. The Ohio-born lefty was 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts. So far this year, Niese has a lousy 5.40 ERA to go with his sub-par 3-4 record. The good news is, his velocity was up in his last start, something Mets fans will want to see. Niese has to be the guy Terry Collins can look to and count on in addition to Harvey.
This pitching staff needs to help Matt Harvey. The bullpen is no better, even though they are taxed from short outing after seemingly shorter outing. The relief guys are donning the second-worst ERA in the majors at 4.77. There is no excuse for not being able to at least keep the team in the game. We aren't stupid; we understand the lineup leaves a lot to be desired. But so does this pitching staff, and pitching wins games.
With that said, the bullpen is weak and the lineup is weak, but the spark comes from the starting rotation. The Mets need quality starts out of their two through five starters in the rotation to even give them a chance to win games. So far this year, it has been Matt Harvey standing alone as the only Met who shows up to start the game the way he is supposed to. It is time for this rotation, especially Jon Niese, to step it up for the Metropolitans before this season is totally down the toilet sooner rather than later.
Brian Sausa is a Queens, New York native. He currently writes for the New York Sports World blog, covering a variety of New York sports teams.
- Sports & Recreation
- Matt Harvey
- New York Mets
- Terry Collins