A CONUNDRUM OF K’S: WILL MATT HARVEY’S POWER ARM HOLD UP?
Added by Jason Mast on May 9, 2013.
Matt Harvey is being compared to Dwight Gooden. Is that a good thing? (Brad Penner/USA TODAY)
Intermixed between the furor and euphoria of Matt Harvey’s run of dominance lays one overlooked April 29 start against the Miami Marlins. It was the New York Mets starters’ worst start of the year and not particularly noteworthy (few Miami games are) as he lasted only 5.1 innings despite throwing 121 pitches.
Overlooked, however, on that night was Twitter, or rather the Twitter account of one particular fan keeping a close watch and an online ‘K’ count for Harvey’s start. Doc Gooden, it seems, has taken a keen interest into the man destined to fill his shoes.
It seems premature, almost heretical, to compare Matt Harvey, an inexperienced starter who has less major league service time than the sophomoric Bryce Harper, to a player who’s 1985 campaign ranks as the third best pitching season by WAR since 1900, yet the stats show that Harvey has actually been better. Through seven starts, Harvey has posted more strikeouts, fewer hits, and a lower ERA than Gooden over that same stretch.
While Harvey’s minor league numbers can’t compare to Doc’s (Dwight struck out 300 as an 18 year old), they were both high level draft picks and each posted sub-3.00 ERA’s in their rookie seasons. Perhaps more telling is Dwight’s own statements, calling Harvey, “Better than advertised,” posting strikeout counts for every start (a homage to when fans would do the same for Doc’s starts in the 1980s) and attempting to nickname him, “The Real Deal.” Ken Rosenthal joined in the praise, reporting that scouts were calling Harvey’s fastball Gooden-Esque.
Sadly, Doctor K may also serve as a cautionary tale. After unanimously winning the Cy Young in 1985, the “K’s” fell off and he never finished in the top three again, having only been able to top 200 strikeouts once more in his career. By the ripe old age of 29, Gooden ceased to even be a serviceable major league pitcher. As great as the excitement over Harvey’s electric stuff is (And it is downright filthy), our enthusiasm must be tempered by the knowledge that Gooden’s story is not unique.
In 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez was on top of the world, throwing the hardest fastball in the majors and running an ERA below 1.00 into June, while Tim Lincecum, coming off consecutive Cy Young awards, struck out 230 batters with a mid-90′s heater. Last year they each led their league in losses and this season both are in danger of being evicted from the rotation, unable to crack the low 90′s with even their greatest effort.
Matt Harvey is a phenomenon, the most explosive and dominant pitcher to hit Flushing since Dwight Gooden and every Mets fan will be holding fast to their seat for each 98 MPH pitch he has left, but don’t be surprised if your not sitting for long.