In the first two games Matt Harvey started in 2013, John Buck went 3-for-8 with 2 HR and 6 RBIs. Harvey went 2-0 with 1 ER and 19 Ks in 14 IP. And a trend was born. Buck has been behind the plate for every Harvey start since. As a player with limited MLB experience, it’s unlikely that Harvey has demanded that Buck be his personal catcher. It’s much more likely that Terry Collins liked the veteran catcher matched with the young pitcher.
And as with most strategies employed by Collins, he deploys this matchup consistently and anally.
Common practice is to give catchers the day off when a day game follows a night game. It makes even more sense when the catcher is on the other side of 30, like Buck is. Yet Thursday afternoon saw Buck behind the plate for a 12:40 start, even though he was on the field the night before. Perhaps coincidentally, Buck went 0-for-4 in a game where the Mets ended up scoring zero runs.
A lack of run support has been a consistent theme for Harvey starts in 2013. Meanwhile, after such great production in Harvey’s first two starts this year, Buck has been extremely non-productive the following 20 games he has caught the All-Star. In that stretch, Buck is 14-for-85 (.165) with 1 HR and 6 RBIs in Harvey starts.
Last week we saw how productive Buck had been once backup Anthony Recker started getting some more playing time. At this point of the year, there’s absolutely no reason that Buck has to be behind the plate for every Harvey start. The next time Harvey pitches a day game when Buck caught the night before, Collins should not hesitate writing Recker’s name in the lineup.
ANOTHER DAY FOR HARVEY – Speaking of Harvey and day games, Thursday was the 11th time this season he has made an afternoon start. With 22 games pitched this year, exactly half of his appearances have been day games. That’s the top mark on the staff, one more day start than Dillon Gee has made in 2013. Harvey is 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA and a 0.828 WHIP in night games this year. During the day, he’s 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 0.941 WHIP.
THE WHITE-HOT LAGARES – Rookie Juan Lagares got off to a miserable start at the plate in the majors but he is making up for that here lately in record fashion. After the doubleheader on June 18th, Lagares had a .507 OPS. But in 33 games and 113 PA since, he has a .340/.384/.524 line with 15 extra-base hits. That hot streak has his season numbers up to a .728 OPS, which is a 104 OPS+. Combined with his strong defensive play, that’s a very nice player. However, during his hot streak, Lagares has succeeded thanks to a .442 BABIP and overall for the season he has a .362 mark in the category.
BACK FROM THE EDGIN – After an impressive debut last year, Josh Edgin was counted on to be a key member of the 2013 bullpen. But a brutal start found Edgin sent to the minors after 11 games and a 9.64 ERA. But since his recall on June 11th, Edgin has been outstanding. In 23 games covering 19.1 IP, Edgin has a 0.93 ERA and a 1.086 WHIP. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Edgin in 2013 is that he is pitching better against RHB than he is lefties. Same-sided hitters have a .770 OPS this year against him but righties have just a .606 mark. And he’s faced six more righties than lefties.
EY JR HITS A ROUGH PATCH – When the Mets rescued Eric Young Jr. from the Rockies, he provided an immediate boost to the lineup, giving the team a speedy guy with a high OBP to hit leadoff. In his first 24 games with the Mets, Young had a .782 OPS. But since the All-Star break, Young has a .515 OPS in 13 games. He now has 177 PA with the Mets and has a .699 OPS. Overall in 2013, Young has a .670 OPS in 357 PA. In his MLB career, Young has a .676 OPS in 1,032 PA.
HEFNER’S STREAK CONTINUES – It’s been a roller coaster ride for Jeremy Hefner in 2013. He started off awful and then followed up with an extended run of pitching where he looked like a #2 SP. But since the All-Star break, Hefner has been knocked around in three starts. There’s been so much emphasis on his Jekyll-and-Hyde pitching that his offensive ineptitude has been largely ignored. But in 35 PA, Hefner has yet to record a hit. Only six pitchers in Mets history have recorded 20 or more PA in a year without a hit. Randy Tate in 1975 had 47 PA and 41 ABs without a hit, the club record.