COMMENTARY | Being the starting pitcher for the MLB All-Star game is quite an honor. There aren't many pitchers able to say they've done it. Matt Harvey, not even in the big leagues one full calendar year, was handed this privilege. It became increasingly special for the New York Mets pitcher as the game was played at Citi Field.
In an interview with Erin Andrews following his two shutout innings, Harvey confessed he was a little nervous prior to stepping on the mound in front of a capacity crowd. After two American League hitters walked to the plate, it looked like those nerves carried out to the field. Mike Trout doubled on the first pitch he saw, followed by a Harvey fastball nailing Robinson Cano on the knee.
What made this two-on and no-out situation even worse was Miguel Cabrera walking to the plate, with plans of giving his squad an early lead. Not even 10 pitches into his appearance and it looked like game was getting out of Harvey's control.
The most important pitch of his short appearance came at the start of Cabrera's at-bat; he threw a changeup down in the zone, igniting a swing and miss. Finally, the Mets' ace could take a breath and gain some confidence. He went on to use his secondary pitches to strike out the Detroit Tigers third baseman for the first out.
The task didn't get any easier, as the American League next sent Chris Davis to the plate. With each pitch, we could see Matt Harvey slowing getting confidence. After all, the 7-2 record, 2.35 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 147 strikeouts in 130 innings pitched he's put together this season is no fluke.
Harvey proceeded to induce a flyout from Davis and a struck out Jose Bautista to get out of a first inning jam, keeping the game scoreless. Having all the momentum, the right-hander came out and set down the AL All-Stars in order to end his night in the spotlight. His second inning of work was impressive, but it was what he did in the opening inning that caught my eye.
There was a lot of pressure on Harvey coming into this All-Star game start. All eyes have been on him for most of the year thanks to what he's done on the mound, but it was magnified by getting to start the Midsummer Classic in his home park. No one could blame Harvey, a 24-year-old, for being nervous. After Trout and Cano immediately reached base, I'm sure there were a few Mets fans afraid to watch what happened next.
I was excited for Harvey's July 16 start, as it was a well-deserved honor. I also desperately wanted to see him perform well. Like watching Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero in the MLB Futures Game on July 14, it would be a sign of good things to come for the Mets. Some felt Clayton Kershaw should have started the game, and Harvey was one bad pitch away from making a fool out of National League manager, Bruce Bochy.
Thankfully, that bad pitch never came. Harvey didn't allow another runner to reach base, striking out three in two innings of work. He faced the best hitters in the game in a tight situation, and came out successful. It's takes a lot of inner confidence and mental toughness to settle down and accomplish what he did. That's something only an ace can do.
Mets fans have seen it all season, but Harvey's All-Star game performance proved he was worthy of getting the nod to start the game. He once again displayed he has what it takes to be the ace of a pitching staff into the future. He also symbolizes hope of a new age in Flushing to come very soon. Now, the rest of baseball is aware of the change going on at Citi Field, too.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue, Mets Merized Online, and Rising Apple. He currently serves as Executive Editor of MetsMinors.net.
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