Matt Harvey bandwagon one outing away from getting crowded

It is safe to say that most of the fan base is losing/has lost patience with Mike Pelfrey. Me, I made my peace with Pelfrey last year, accepting him as a durable pitcher whose final numbers will depend upon how lucky he is in a given season. Instead, my frustration is with Dillon Gee. Wait, that’s not exactly right. My frustration is with those who think that Gee is the guy who began last year 8-1 instead of the pitcher who finished with a 5.51 ERA over his final 94.2 IP.

Here early in Grapefruit League action those two pitchers have combined for an 8.22 ERA, having surrendered 13 hits in 7.2 IP with just 3 Ks. Contrast that with how well top prospect Matt Harvey has done in his two outings, where he has not allowed an earned run or hit in 4 IP.

Harvey was wild in his first game but settled down and was very effective in his second outing. Meanwhile, Gee was unimpressive in his second outing and Pelfrey was lit up in his only start this Spring. There is still plenty of time for the veteran pitchers to turn things around and for the rookie to implode.

But we are one more solid outing by Harvey away from having a mini controversy on our hands, one that will only be exacerbated if Pelfrey and Gee don’t pitch better ASAP.

The Mets’ brass has made it clear to Harvey and everyone else that they expect the pitcher to open this season in the minors. But how will they react if Harvey again throws up a scoreless outing in his next appearance while Pelfrey and Gee scuffle? The fans are hungry to see the pitching prospects they’ve heard so much about perform in the majors and that sentiment will only grow louder if Harvey keeps up his strong pitching.

It will be easy for Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins to keep with the original plan if Pelfrey and Gee stop giving up home runs and start getting some more outs. It will take considerably more backbone to stay the course if Pelfrey and Gee continue to serve up meatballs while Harvey pounds strikes with his mid-90s heater.

My opinion was that the Mets needed to upgrade from Gee in the offseason. However, my strong preference would be for Harvey to get more innings under his belt in the minors this season. After all, Harvey has just 59.2 IP above A-ball in his career. There’s not any magic number of innings that a prospect has to pitch in the high minors to be ready for the majors. Yet 12 starts in Double-A seems insufficient to me for Harvey. That seems right out of the Tony Bernazard playbook and not a move I am willing to endorse.

Clearly, the highlight of Spring Training has been Johan Santana and how it appears right now that he is on target to take the ball on Opening Day. But in a camp otherwise marred by non-stop oblique injuries, the performance of Harvey has been a welcome breath of fresh air. Still, I am hoping he continues his strong pitching this Spring but finds himself in Buffalo to open the year.

Everyone likes to point to Dwight Gooden and how he was able to come up early and make a big contribution before people felt he was ready. But for every success story like Gooden, we can find a Tim Leary or Jose Rijo – guys who came up early and who were not ready. And the only reason Gooden got a shot was because he had such a strong advocate in Davey Johnson. Harvey does not have a similar ally (at least not yet) in Collins.

Not that such a thing matters to the fans.

6 comments for “Matt Harvey bandwagon one outing away from getting crowded

  1. Metsense
    March 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    The Harvey-Gooden comparison is faulty because Gooden threw 191 innings with 300K’s in the minors. Johnson managed Gooden for two weeks that year and saw him up close. Harvey is not Gooden, yet. Gooden was ready, Harvey seems close. The real problem is that the Mets refused to upgrade their starting pitching by signing a Bedard, Maholm, Saunders or Marquis as rotation competition. Or would it have been better to offer Kuroda, Jackson or Oswalt a one year deal? Just one year!! Instead there is no real Plan B, just like CF, right handed catcher, lefty reliever and potential lefty platoon of Bay.

    • Metstheory22
      March 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

      I agree we have to upgrade but not with pitchers you have mentioned. Most of these pitchers have been on our radar before and are not an upgrade except for Oswalt. Jackson is another Pelfrey with a better bat. Most have failed with their teams. We have to upgrade our front of rotation and move front guys back (Niese, Dickey).

  2. brett gabrielle
    March 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    his stuff looks good but his limited minor league experience leads me to believe that if nothing else he wont be ready to make 30 major league starts. if he starts out in the minors and is called up to the bigs around the all star break he will be better conditioned in the long run.

  3. March 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    IMO, Harvey shouldn’t (and won’t) be considered an option for the Opening Day roster, regardless of whether he’s got a handful of solid innings against a mix of Major League and minor league hitters. We’ve been down that idiotic road with Jenrry Mejia recently enough that hopefully Mets fans will be able to exhibit a modicum of patience. If I’m the Mets, I send Harvey & Familia to Binghamton to start the 2012 season, with the expectation that by June-ish they’ll pitch their way to Buffalo. At that point the Mets can evaluate the players and how they might fit into the 2012 team. I’m not throwing in the towel on the 2012 season, but I’m certainly not expecting Familia or Harvey to be any meaningful part of it.

    As for Pelfrey, he is what he is. A durable, mediocre Major League starter. For those who are sick to death of him, I can only offer that I don’t anticipate him being a part of the 2013 Mets. The way I see it, he’ll either pitch well enough in 2012 to be traded at the deadline (or in the early offseason I guess) or he’ll pitch poorly enough to be non-tendered in December. I don’t see a way that he can walk the line between not being attractive enough to garner trade interest, but being enough of an asset to keep at whatever his projected arbitration raise would be.

    As for Gee, he’s a guy whose ceiling is at the back of ML rotation (which to his credit he’s spent some ML time experiencing), but who’s more likely destined to be a swingman-type middle reliever or AAA depth for the bulk of his career. I’d have loved for the Mets to have signed a guy like Edwin Jackson to a one-year deal, bumping Gee back to AAA, but the Mets apparently didn’t have the money (and there’s no guarantee Jackson would’ve wanted to come to NY even if they did).

    Harvey’s exciting and I’m very interested to see him at the big league level, but neither Pelfrey’s not Gee’s rotation spot is in imminent danger.

  4. David Groveman
    March 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    There are two sides to every baseball decision. There is the baseball side, “Will this player help the team win?” and there is the financial side, “Will this player help our bottom line.” Often, they are the same thing, because winning = money and vice versa. Matt Harvey might defy the rule.

    Harvey needs time in the minors to be his most effective self for the Mets. Giving him a few months or even another full season in the minors should only help him become a better pitcher and lead to the greater success of the ball club.

    BUT

    People don’t want to watch Dillon Gee or Mike Pelfrey or Miguel Batista pitching baseball games that we know we aren’t likely to win. They would tune in to watch the future of the franchise dialing in against the rival Phillies.

    I agree that it’s not likely for Harvey to come up at the end of Spring Training but I don’t the management will wait long if it will help sell tickets and advertising.

  5. Dan Stack
    March 13, 2012 at 6:54 am

    As enticing as it is to have Harvey replace a guy like Gee, you just can’t rush it. Harvey definitely needs more seasoning.

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