The day began with Matt Harvey striking out 13 and carrying a no-hitter performance into the seventh inning; it continued with Zack Wheeler making his major league debut, making it an unforgettable one, as the New York Mets swept their doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves, and also got an optimistic look of what their rotation future might look like.
I hope people saw this. Certainly they’re going to enjoy watching these two guys for a long time. They’re going to be around.
It’s been rough on New York Mets fans over the last six seasons, missing the playoffs in every one of them, including two collapses in 2007 & 2008, but not winning more than 79 games over the last four. This season they’re off to a 27-40 start, with both the Nationals and the Braves looking quite untouchable, but maybe there’s a turning point the ball-club has reached.
Matt Harvey is 6-1 this season with a 2.16 ERA, striking out 9.9 batter per nine innings, and allowing a batting average of .193. This wasn’t the first sign of greatness from the 24 year-old, using his slider, mostly, in the early game, as the Mets won 4-3. Harvey limited batters to 0 hits in 9 AB ending in a slider, with a career-high 7 strikeouts with the pitch.
But his win-loss record could have been much better. The Mets had scored only 18 runs in Harvey’s previous 10 starts while he was in the game, which meant eight no-decisions for him in nine games, before a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals to his name, breaking a streak of 14 consecutive starts without a loss dating to his final appearance of 2012.
For Wheeler, it was a coming out party, very close to the place he grew up in and became a high school star. He pitched six innings, allowing only four hits (and five walks) while striking out 7 players, as the Mets went on to win 6-1 thanks to a great hitting day, finishing with 14-of-39, including 3 hits for Marlon Byrd and a multiple RBI day for Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla.
In the early game, winning by one run, Harvey had a short collapse in the 8th, allowing three runs, but the previous hitting of Marlon Byrd (on an awesome day for him) and more good hitting from Quintanilla and John Buck gave the Mets their first consecutive wins since sweeping the Yankees in late-May.
I had some jitters going at first. Then I settled down a little bit, probably the fourth or fifth inning I think it was, found a rhythm, settled down, and I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. It was definitely an experience.
Things aren’t so bright, despite all the optimism. The Mets have rotation problems when it doesn’t come to Harvey, and Wheeler is just getting started. They’re ranked 25th in runs, 30th in batting average, 27th in getting on base and 28th in power hitting. The Mets are still quite far away from being good enough to challenge for the NL East, which probably won’t happen this season.
But there is promise to cling on to, and imagining their top of the rotation with Harvey and Wheeler pitching together is what keeps some Mets fans going in this rather bleak period in the history of the franchise.