Sunday, July 21, 2013
Second half stat storylines: Matt Harvey
By Mark Simon
Four statistical storylines for Matt Harvey heading into the second half:
Harvey’s first start of the second half will be his 30th major league appearance. Harvey enters with a 2.47 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 189 1/3 innings.
The Mets' all-time leaders in those stats through 30 games (minimum 100 innings pitched) are Jerry Koosman, who owned a 2.39 ERA, which Harvey would beat by a hair if he throws seven scoreless innings on Sunday, and Dwight Gooden, with a 1.09 WHIP, which Harvey should beat barring a horrible outing.
Harvey will finish with the second-most strikeouts by a Met through 30 games. His 217 Ks trail only Gooden, who had 267.
If the innings limit for Harvey is 210, he has 80 left this season, which equates to 11 or 12 starts if he continues to average 6.9 innings per start. A dozen starts of that average would put him at 213 innings.
Harvey’s turn figures to come around 14 times the rest of the season, meaning he would likely be skipped twice. Logic would dictate that one of those starts would be his last of the season.
My former colleague Steven Glasser had a great stat that we ran about a week ago, and it is worth repeating.
In the five instances this season in which Harvey has taken the mound for an inning with his pitch count already at 100, he has allowed eight earned runs and recorded five outs. In innings that began with his pitch count below 100, his ERA is a meager 1.93. Opponents are 15-for-37 (.469 batting average) when seeing a pitch No. 101 or higher from Harvey.
This is the sort of thing that is a statistical separator when evaluating Harvey against baseball’s very best pitchers, such as Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw is worthy of emulating in two regards. One is that he is very good when surpassing the 100-pitch mark. Over the past two seasons, opponents are hitting .189 against when he is at 101 pitches or more.
The other is that he is efficient. In his four starts immediately before the All-Star break, Kershaw needed just 416 pitches to get through 32 innings. Harvey, by comparison, threw roughly the same number of pitches (412) but only got through 26 innings.
Harvey is not winning 20 games this season given his early string of no-decisions. He also is not likely to post a sub-2.00 ERA. So what statistical goals are within striking distance?
Harvey’s best chance at setting any sort of Mets record would be with his WHIP, which stood at 0.92 prior to the All-Star break (or 0.915 if you want to be more specific). The best single-season WHIP in Mets history is 0.946, by Tom Seaver in 1971. The closest pitcher to breaking that record was Pedro Martinez, who had a 0.949 WHIP in 2005.
The other -- and likely unreachable -- target would be 250 strikeouts, a number not touched since Gooden struck out 268 in 1985.
Presuming Harvey pitches 210 innings this season, he would need to strike out 103 in the 80 innings he has left, a rate of 11.6 per nine innings. That is higher than his current strikeout rate of 10.2 per nine.