Many who follow Major League Baseball will know that the New York Mets were one of the top surprises during the season's first-half. Unfortunately for both the team and its fans, the second-half has started abysmally, and the team has flopped more than a roster full of Duke post-players, losing 11 of the first 12 games following the All-Star break. However, last night, a bit of hope was infused into the franchise, as former Tar Heel Matt Harvey made is much anticipated debut in what turned out to be spectacular fashion.
While Harvey is certainly one of the top prospects in the Mets organization (ranked 30th in baseball by ESPN's Keith Law), and has shown the ability to dominate in spurts at the AAA-level (9.2 SO/9; 7.9 H/9), his path to the bigs has been slowed somewhat by concerns that he had not quite harnessed the raw "stuff" that led him to being 7th overall pick in the 2010 Draft (3.9 BB/9; 9 WP). Up until this point in the season, the Mets' appeared content to let Harvey remain in AAA and more finely tune his craft, as the performance of the starters on the major league club had been quite good; but recent injuries and a regression in performance had left the Mets in a position where they no longer had the luxury of waiting for Harvey to develop any further. So last night in Arizona Matt Harvey was thrown in to the fire, and the results were terrific, as he became the first player since 1900(!) to strikeout 10 or more batters and collect two or more hits in his MLB debut (Final Line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 11 K). Harvey's stuff last night was filthy, and the D'Backs were simply overmatched; perhaps the best indication of how electric his arm is was the fact that most of his strike outs came on fastballs up in the zone. It's one thing to beat/fool major league hitters with a breaking ball or change up; it is another thing all together to consistently throw the ball by them. Full highlights of Matt's debut can be seen in the video below:
Obviously, it takes more than one start to make a career, and the list of, "players with terrific debuts who went on to do nothing," is very long. Heck, as dominant as Harvey was last night, he still walked three batters, an indication that he is still far from a finished product. But what was absolutely clear last night is that Matt Harvey has the talent to be as good a pitcher as there is in the game, and I, for one, am looking forward to watching him grow.