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Entries in Matt Harvey (8)

Wednesday
Dec112013

Matt Harvey's Heater Will Be Missed

When it was announced that the Mets would shut down Matt Harvey for the remainder of the 2013 season with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow at the end of August, a part of every baseball fan's soul dissolved ever so slightly. Well, maybe that was too much. The point is, Harvey was arguably the most exciting pitcher in baseball before the injury, having posted a 2.27 ERA that ranked best among qualified righties at that juncutre to go with a National League-best 27.7% strikeout rate.

But the basic numbers themselves weren't the only thing that made the 24-year-old phenom so intoxicating. Wielding an easy 80-grade changeup that held batters to a .208 batting average (and didn't allow one extra-base hit all season) and two breaking pitches that combined for a 36.3% strikeout rate was impressive, but what arguably most attracted the masses was Harvey's electrifying fastball.

Harvey's Fastball Ranks Among Qualified Starters, 2013

As we can see, Harvey's fastball was ludicrous last season in several respects. The pitch ranked first in opponent slugging percentage against, allowing only 14 extra-base hits in 377 plate appearances. It also induced a major-league best 33.9% chase rate, which was considerably higher than Homer Bailey's 31.6% rate that ranked second-best it the NL. Tim Hudson (.151) was the only NL pitcher to induce a lower well-hit average on his fastball than Harvey, and Shelby Miller (24.8%) and Yu Darvish (25.6%) were the lone right-handed starters to garner higher swing-and-miss rates than Harvey.

Of course, some of Harvey's fastballs were more captivating than others. More specifically, I'm talking about heaters of 98 MPH and above -- such pitches that opponents had little hope for success against last season.

Harvey's 98 MPH+ fastball pitch frequency, 2013

Opponent in-play rate vs. Harvey's fastball 98 MPH+

Results and averages comparison against Harvey's 98+ MPH fastball

No qualified starter last season threw more fastballs at 98 MPH or above last season than Harvey's 187, and as such, batters struggled mightily against the offering. Over 49 plate appearances, opponents posted a .070/.184/.070 slash line against Harvey's 98+ MPH heater to go with a .047 well-hit average. They also placed just 18.4% of such offerings in play and swung at 37% when located out of the strike zone. As the pitch frequency map above shows, Harvey pumped those fastballs in the upper half of the zone at a 70.6% rate -- a region of the zone where opponents put a resounding 11.1% of such offerings in-play and struck out at a 63.6% clip.

I've included opponents' results and averages on Harvey's fastball when clocked at 90-96 MPH and 97 MPH and above to show how dominant his fastball was when at least 98 MPH. While the pitch was dominant regardless of velocity, it seems his fastball was most nasty at that speed. Opponents' well-hit average decreased by .088 from 97 MPH and above to 98 MPH and up, missing at nearly 5% more with the 1 MPH increase.

While we should take into consideration that only 6.9% of Harvey's fastballs last season were 98 MPH and above, we can still easily conclude such offerings were ridiculously difficult for batters to handle. As is the case with all starting pitchers, Harvey's velocity will progressively decrease from here on out, and it remains to be seen how Tommy John surgery will have either adverse or favorable affects on his velocity in 2015.

But one thing is for certain: Harvey's fastball was pretty darn dominant last season. And we're going to miss it.

Monday
Jul222013

Matt Harvey was Marvy Yesterday

Marvy Met Matt Harvey

With all that goes on each day in baseball, we may not take appropriate notice of someone from whom we already expect brilliance.

Don't do that.

Appreciate great performances.

Appreciate the Mets wunderkind, Matt Harvey.

Look at some Harvey numbers 

  • Yesterday, Harvey, who appears potentially no-hittable in each start, pitched seven shutout innings allowing three hits and walking no one.
  • It was his 10th game that he has pitched seven or more innings and allowed one or fewer runs.
  • Harvey has made 20 starts and in eight of them has allowed three or fewer hits.
  • In six starts, he hasn't walked a batter.
  • In four starts, he hasn't allowed a run.
  • He struck out 10 yesterday, giving him six double-digit whiff games. 

Breaking down yesterday's performance

  • Harvey threw 112 pitches yesterday.
  • He threw 75 strikes and 37 balls.
  • Batters swung at 59 pitches and missed 23.
  • They fouled off 22 and put 14 in play.
  • There 58 pitches in the zone, batters chased 23, and there were 16 called strikes. 

Fasten your seat belts 

  • Overall, Harvey averaged 93.8 mph on his 112 pitches.
  • He threw 73 fastballs and averaged 96.7 and hit 99.9 on the gun.
  • There was only one hit (a single) off the fastball. 

Harvey was placing the fastball everywhere but in one low corner.

Now look at what makes Harvey so great

Check out the location of Harvey's strikeouts.

Look at the corner where he was not throwing his fastball. That's where he was crippling batters with his other pitches.

10 Strikeouts 

  • 3 on fastballs
  • 3 on sliders
  • 2 on curves
  • 2 on change-ups 

While 65.2% of Harvey's pitches were fastballs, 70.0% of his strikeouts were on pitches other than his considerable heat.

Don't take a performance like this for granted. 

Harvey was a maestro yesterday and he is must-see baseball and he may be the 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner. 

 

 

Monday
Jul082013

Peter Gammons: Premium Pitching in the NL East

It has become eminently clear that the National League East is becoming the pitching division.

This was the discussion that began among some Padres players, coaches and front office people now after having faced the Met’s Matt Harvey, Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg.

“Those three have the best stuff of any starters in the league,” said one official. And as the comparative debate went on, there were actually a few opinions that Strasburg actually was third on the list in terms of pure stuff.

Here’s how the Friars have done against the three pheenoms in 2013

April 3 – In the second game of the season, the Padres faced Matt Harvey and he was brilliant. He threw seven innings allowing only an Everth Cabrera single in the 4th. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 10.  

July 1 – The Padres had similar struggles against Jose Fernandez. The Miami marvel pitched eight innings allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out 10. “All I can tell you is that Fernandez is already special,” said Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier. Two of his hitters compared him to Felix Hernandez. “His changeup isn’t there yet,” said one outfielder, “but Felix’s changeup wasn’t fully developed until he was 25. This guy is 20.” And since June 1, Fernandez is 5-4, 2.72 with 21 hits allowed in 40 1/3 innings.  

July 7 - Despite striking out six of the first 11 batters he faced, the Padres roughed up Strasburg getting to him for seven hits and four runs in six innings of work. Strasburg walked two and whiffed nine and allowed one homer. On May 16, Strasburg broke a five-game personal losing streak when he held the Padres to three hits and two runs (one earned) in eight innings.

“Don’t underestimate all Strasburg has gone through,” says one general manager. “He’s had to cope with being Stephen Strasburg, with everyone across the country watching his every start.” The Padres are 0-4 against the three this season.

Beware the Marlins

“The Marlins can be good in a hurry because of their pitching,” says San Diego manager Bud Black. “We faced (Nate) Eovaldi. He sat 96.” Jacob Turner is 22, and developing and with Henderson Alvarez thrown in with Fernandez, Eovaldi and Turner, as they return home Monday to begin a pre-All Star series with the Braves and Nationals, they are aware that since going 13-41 through May 30, the Marlins are 19-14 and loom as a major factor in the National League East race. Atlanta has 13 games remaining with Miami, Washington 12.

Beware the NL East

“What is happening in the National League East is that it is becoming a power pitching division,” says one veteran NL scout. “That’s one reason it’s so hard for Ruben Amaro to throw up his hands and trade off a Cliff Lee or (Jonathan) Papelbon.

It’s hard enough right now. But think a year from now what the Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals are going to be throwing at the Phillies.” With their impending television deal, the Phillies cannot afford to throw Jesse Biddle out there behind Cole Hamels and promise the world that in time they’ll retool their starting pitching to the point that they can match up with their four division rivals. If the Phillies can get a semblance of the great Roy Halladay back with Lee, Hamels and Biddle, they can and likely will be contenders.

The Braves are always going to have good pitching. Mike Minor is 25, Julio Teheran 22, Alex Wood 23, Kris Medlen 27, Brandon Beachy 26 with the depth potential of Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm and the great closer in Craig Kimbrel.

The Nationals are going to spend the next few years building around Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez.

Then there are the Mets, with the potential in 2014 of a staff that brings back flashes of 1969 and 1986 with Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard (2-0 in Binghamton with a 23-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 18 innings) with a very good depth chart of Jon Niese, Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, none of whom will be older than 28. Oh yes, don’t ignore Rafael Montero, who two years ago was in the Dominican Summer League and in 2014 could be well be in the young, powerful Mets rotation.

Time will tell in the NL East

The National League East has been a division that slipped through the hands of the Mets, passed on to the Phillies and has always been within grasp of a Braves organization that develops pitching and players and does not dabble in the high risk, high publicity, high reward world of free agency.

It has had stars, and with Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, et al, and will for at least for a while have Giancarlo Stanton, even if Marlins ownership cannot get him to buy into their promises.

Time will determine the Strasburg/Harvey/Fernandez debate, as well as the development or wear on each young pitcher’s stuff. But as the debate rages as to who is the best potential pitcher east of Clayton Kershaw, it is clear that this is the division that will be dominated by big arms until we fully know just how good, or great, the three phenoms turn out to be.