By Mike Harrington
It's Matt Harvey (5-0) against Mat Latos (4-0) today at Citi Field as the Mets try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Reds. The game is at 1:10 on SNY.
Harvey, the former Bisons ace, is off to an incredible start with a 1.55 ERA in nine starts and 68 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings. Not to mention a Sports Illustrated cover.
Plenty of Mets fans got chafed last week -- not that it's tough for them to get that way as I learned the last four years -- when I talked about the SI cover after Harvey gave up two runs in the first inning at Wrigley Field. He ended up retiring 20 of the next 21 batters and getting his fifth win.
There's huge New York City hype, no shock given there's basically nothing else to talk about with the Mets. Anyone talking about 23-year-old Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (7-0, 1.44)? Nope. But as great as Harvey's start has been, the fact remains he needs to start proving himself against better teams and today will be an interesting barometer.
Harvey's opponents this season? Padres, Phillies, Twins, Nationals, Dodgers, Marlins, White Sox, Pirates, Cubs. Only Pittsburgh is above .500.
Only the Dodgers (.255, 13th) have a team batting average over .250 and are in the top 15 in MLB. The White Sox, Nationals and Marlins, in fact, are in the bottom 5. Harvey has faced the bottom five teams in runs (CHW, PHI, WAS, LAD, MIA) and seven of the bottom nine, adding the Cubs and Padres. The only ones in those group he hasn't faced are the Mariners and.. the Mets.
The Reds are seventh in runs and 15th in average. They've got the second-best record in the NL. Harvey's next start will be against the Yankees. So now we really see. Because after that? Back to facing the Marlins and Nationals.
If Harvey gets through these two starts unscathed and then takes care of the Marlins and Nationals, that could be 9-0 and the easy track to the NL starter at home in the All-Star Game at Citi. And that would be quite a scene.