Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Fab 5: Matt Harvey 'Did You Knows'
By Mark Simon
In honor of Matt Harvey going for his fifth win in five tries this season, we offer five stats you may not have known about the Mets' current ace.
Warning Track Balls
The only home run that Harvey allowed this season was the one Justin Morneau hit in Minnesota to break up his no-hit bid.
We watched every other fly ball and line drive that Harvey has allowed in his four starts. None of the others reached the warning track (the one closest to the outfield fences) on the fly.
We have a pitch classification that divides the strike zone into nine equal sections (kind of like a tic-tac-toe grid). The middle square is mistake territory, where hitters crush pitches and where pitchers try to avoid as much as possible.
It’s a young season, but major league hitters are batting .333 with a .902 OPS when a plate appearance ends with a pitch to that area. In other words, they’ve hit at the level of an MVP candidate.
Through four starts, Harvey has thrown 34 middle-middle pitches and has been immune to any sort of crushing. Opponents are 0-for-9 against them.
Harvey has turned himself into a pitcher who can go deep into games, having gone at least seven innings in every start this season. In those four starts, he has had only one inning last 20 pitches or longer -- the final one he threw against the Washington Nationals in his last start. He threw 23 pitches in that frame.
Last season, in his 10 starts, Harvey had a 20-pitch inning at least once in nine of them. He totaled 13 20-pitch innings in all, one reason he pitched at least seven innings only twice.
Harvey relies on all four of his pitches to be successful, and to this point, all four pitches have been successful -- extremely successful, particularly his nasty off-speed combination.
Harvey has thrown 167 off-speed pitches. They have yielded two hits (the Morneau homer and a ground-ball single by Ian Desmond) and three walks. They’ve also produced 40 outs.
Remember when it was said that Harvey needed to work on his changeup? No one has gotten a hit on the 49 he has thrown this season.
Harvey has a streak of five straight appearances in which he’s pitched at least seven innings and allowed four or fewer hits, dating back to his final start of 2012.
In the live-ball era (since 1920), there have been 13 instances in which a pitcher made it through five straight appearances of that nature. They are a mix of names, the most prominent of which are Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.
But only one pitcher has gotten to six. That would be the Mets' former ace Johan Santana, who had eight such starts with the Twins in 2004.