One game proves nothing usually, but if there ever has been an example of the inanity of assigning wins and losses to individual pitchers, what happened to right-hander Matt Harvey on Tuesday night is it.
Here's his line for the New York Mets: Nine innings, 12 strikeouts, one hit allowed, no runs or walks and one bloody nose — which he got under control after a messy first. Also for Harvey: A no-decision. The Mets scored a run in the 10th to beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 at Citi Field.
Harvey allowed only an infield single to Alex Rios with two outs in the seventh.
Harvey not getting credit for a win because his team didn't score while he happened to be in the game shouldn't matter, but it does matter when it comes to getting paid. Things like wins and RBIs — another statistic largely beyond an individual's control — frequently are a key part of arbitration hearings and contract negotiations in general.
But just between us, wins and losses for pitchers are baloney. There are a zillion better ways to measure how well a pitcher performed, like game score. (Here's the formula.) Against the White Sox, Harvey posted a game score of 97, the best anyone has turned in so far this season and, as Yahoo! Sports' own Jeff Passan said on Twitter:
Since 1916, there have been only 40 outings of nine innings or fewer with a higher Game Score.
Only 59 pitchers have gone up to nine innings and scored at least a 97. Taking it a step further, if you filter Passan's list to include only pitchers who got a no-decision, it's three performances long.
Now you know something he has in common with the Big Unit. Just looking at the lines, I'd say Harvey's is preferable. No walks, no runs allowed. Fewer hits. That means, essentially, that Matt Harvey pitched the best anybody ever has over nine innings without getting a decision since at least 1916. So you also could say that his no-decision allows us to really appreciate how well he pitched.
That should be something a guy can take to arbitration.
Yeah, the White Sox might have the worst offense in the major leagues, and Harvey wasn't exactly pitching under pennant race pressure, but what would you like him to do? Allow negative hits, or strike out more batters than he faced? Well, he just might next time!
Get a load of his numbers so far: 1.28 ERA over seven outings, with 22 hits allowed in 49 1/3 innings, with 58 strikeouts and 12 walks.
Just for reference, the best recorded game score since 1916 was Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout game in 1998 (Happy 15th anniversary, plus a day!). It was 105.
Overall, Harvey is like Wood in '98. Probably better, and just full of possibilities. None of them should have to do with his personal won-loss record. It's like Harvey's bloody nose. An irritation, a distraction. Blocked by the second inning. A memory by the time it was over.