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Better know a pitcher: Matt Harvey

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A look at the Mets game one starter

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

As our kind of unofficial prospect guy, I've been following Matt Harvey for some time, dating back to his UNC days as a Tar Heel. Harvey was a big deal out of high school as probably the best prep pitcher in the draft alongside Rick Porcello who went early to the Tigers. Harvey fell to the third round and went to the Angels who didn't sign him. Harvey kinda struggled in his first few college years and was a reliever at times. His junior year though he took a step forward though some concerns about command but none the less pitched like a prototypical college ace.

With his stock regained Harvey went quickly in the first to the Mets as the 7th overall pick (three spots after the Royals took Christian Colon) in the 2010 draft. Command still remained a bit of a concern for Harvey but he was still electric in the minors and debuted in 2012.

Harvey continued with the electricity and went from good rookie season in 2012 to a bona fide ace in 2013 putting up a breakout 6 WAR season. That season though would be shortened in late August as Harvey came down with an elbow injury. As elbow injuries often do, it turned out Harvey would need Tommy John surgery which ultimately cost him a chance at the Cy Young in 2013 and all of the 2014 season.

Now rehabbed and back from Tommy John, Harvey was very good this year with a 4.4 WAR season, though with some late season controversy. At the beginning of the year, the Mets planned to have Harvey on an inning restriction, but they likely didn't expect to find themselves in the playoff hunt. With the team in contention, the team talked about shutting Harvey down in the middle of a pennant race with Scott Boras raising the drama level by getting involved. Ultimately the Mets decided to just limit Harvey's time on the mound rather than outright shut him down.

Harvey is just scary overall and there's a lot of things he does right. The command that once troubled him in the minors is all but gone as he walked just 1.76 batters per-nine-innnings this year (1.56 last year). What's even scarier though is that he's not a finesse pitchers with that walk rate but a power pitcher racking up almost a 9 K/9 this year with an average fastball velocity of 95 MPH.

Pitch FB FT SL CU CH
Usage 55.9% 7.2% 16.2% 12.0% 8.5%
Value/100 1.26 0.76 1.24 1.22 1.41

He does not have a single below average pitch really. Like most pitchers he throws his fastball the majority of the time, but it's one of his best pitches. Then he mixes in three different secondary pitches that are all decidedly above-average. This is what makes great pitchers great.

Harvey usually throws his fastball to lefties well above league-average but other than that he is pretty average in distributions with his pitch usage across the board. He uses his changeup more to lefties than righties and the slider to right-handed batters.

Fastball

Slider

Curveball

Changeup

Platoon splits

Platoon wOBA HR FIP K/9
LHB .257 21 2.90 10.22
RHB .256 9 2.39 8.69

Harvey isn't the best pitcher in baseball, but there aren't a lot of guys in front of him though for that title. Harvey is going to be the Mets Game One starter to face off against Edinson Volquez and the Mets will have the advantage on the mound to start. The Royals will have to hope to keep it close before Harvey has to exit and turn things over to the Mets bullpen.