Stats & Info: Matt Harvey

Double and Nothing

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
David Price beat the Red Sox with his MLB-leading fourth 10-strikeout, no-walk game of the season, collectively pushing 2014 one step closer to history

One throws from the left, one from the right and just a few days ago it appeared that there was a chance that they could be teammates in Seattle. On Friday night David Price and Félix Hernández showed why they’re the hottest pitchers in the American League.

Pitching at home against the Red Sox, Price allowed three earned runs in eight innings to earn his 11th victory of the season, extending the Rays season-high winning streak to 8 games. He also struck out 10 batters while walking none. That gave Price four double-digit-strikeout, 0-walk games this season, breaking a tie with Chicago’s Chris Sale for the most in the majors.

Just a couple of hours later, Sale would find himself tied again, this time by Felix Hernandez who went seven innings against the Orioles, striking out 10 while walking none in a no-decision against the Orioles. Hernández did emerge with a share of an all-time record, tying Tom Seaver for the major league mark for most consecutive starts of at least seven innings pitched and two earned runs allowed or fewer.)

Price, Hernández and Sale are three of the seven pitchers (with Johnny Cueto, Jose Fernandez, Zach Greinke and Corey Kluber) who have multiple games with 10 strikeouts and no walks this season. They’re all part of the 29 individuals who have done it a total of 40 times in 2014. If that seems like a lot, it is.

Looking back to 1900, there have only been two years in which there were more individual outings with double-digit strikeouts and no walks than we’ve had with six full days remaining in July. That’s ENTIRE seasons. And those came the past two years.

The standard was set way back in 2013 when 31 individuals went to the hill 45 times to rack up 10-K’s and no walks. Cliff Lee and Matt Harvey led the way with four apiece (Harvey’s came in just 26 games due to his season being cut short by Tommy John surgery) while Yu Darvish had three. That broke the old mark of 43 such games set in 2012 when nobody had as many as four.

Now we stand at 40 and there's a lot of baseball yet to be played. History will be made. By how much the old record will be shattered is the only question.

Kernels: Fun times on Friday

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
Several times a season, a day comes along that has so much stuff packed into it, we don't need to look at the rest of the week. Consider that all of the following happened in seven hours on Friday:

Welington Castillo hit a three-run homer in the 11th to lead the Chicago Cubs to victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the Cubs' second extra-inning homer this season (Anthony Rizzo, April 2), matching their recent average for an entire year (eight in the previous four seasons). Trevor Rosenthal, who allowed the one on Friday, also gave up a walk-off to Rizzo in 2012, and is the only active pitcher to allow two extra-inning homers to the Cubs.

Madison Bumgarner hit a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning to put the San Francisco Giants on the board, then a grand slam in the 4th to take the lead for good over the Colorado Rockies. Giants pitchers have hit only two slams since the franchise moved to California (Shawn Estes, 2000), and it was the first home run by any Giants pitcher since Bumgarner hit one at Coors Field in 2012.

It was the first pitcher grand slam to turn a deficit into a lead since Chris Hammond of the Marlins hit one in a 1995 game against the Houston Astros.

Bumgarner's five RBIs were the most for any pitcher since Chris Carpenter had a three-run homer and a double for the Cardinals on October 1, 2009. Other than Estes (who also had five when he hit his slam), the last Giants pitcher to do it was Dave Koslo who homered twice against the Phillies on July 7, 1949.

Yu Darvish retired the first 15 Astros batters before Matt Dominguez singled to start the 6th. That would be the only hit Darvish allowed, but because his Texas Rangers also failed to score, he did not pick up a win. The longest 0-0 tie in the history of the Rangers' stadium was finally broken by Robinson Chirinos' walk-off single in the 12th.

Matt Harvey was the only starter last year to throw eight or more innings of one-hit ball without winning. Only one other pitcher in Rangers history had done it while also recording nine strikeouts: Pete Richert in 1965. Chirinos' hit was the team's first 1-0 walk-off since Rusty Greer singled home Mike Lamb on August 25, 2000.

The Toronto Blue Jays had just three singles, but turned two Baltimore Orioles errors into a pair of fourth-inning runs and won 2-0. It was the first time in franchise history that they'd won a road game on three or fewer total bases (they've done it six times at home). The Orioles were also the first team this year to lose a game allowing zero earned runs, something they've done just three other times in the past 20 seasons.

Grant Balfour relieved Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price. He issued three walks, threw a wild pitch, and still got a save, becoming the first pitcher to do that since... Grant Balfour, last season with Oakland. There have only been 38 saves since 1969 to include that line, and Friday's was the first for the franchise. Balfour is the only pitcher with two of the 38.

Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres threw the season's first complete game, a one-hit shutout of the Detroit Tigers which featured 11 strikeouts. It was the 20th complete-game one-hitter for the only remaining team to never throw a no-hitter, and their first with double-digit strikeouts since Kevin Brown in 1998.

Naturally the night couldn't end without the season's first "plunk-off"-- a game-ending hit-by-pitch with bases loaded. New York Mets reliever Jeurys Familia hit Hank Conger for a 5-4 Los Angeles Angels win. It happens, on average, slightly more than once a year (24 in the last 20 seasons, though none in 2013), but Friday's was just the fifth in the Angels' 54-season history. They hadn't seen one since the Pirates' Brad Havens hit Wally Joyner (scoring Claudell Washington) on July 23, 1989.

Harvey's historic season likely over

August, 26, 2013
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIMatt Harvey leads the NL in strikeouts this season.
New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey is likely out for the season with a partially torn UCL in his right elbow.

The 24-year-old was having an impressive season, sporting a 2.27 ERA with 191 strikeouts in 26 starts.

Harvey ranks second in the majors in ERA, third in WHIP and fourth in strikeouts this season.

However, there have been signs of a slight decline in performance throughout the year. Harvey’s ERA has increased every month throughout the season. It went from a 1.56 ERA in April to a 2.97 this month.

Nobody has thrown the ball as fast as Harvey this season. Among pitchers qualified for the ERA title, Harvey’s average velocity on his fastball, slider and curveball are all the fastest in the majors.

Not many pitchers as young as Harvey have been as effective at such a young age. Harvey’s WHIP (0.93) is the second-lowest in the live ball era (since 1920) by a pitcher in his age 24 or younger season, among qualified pitchers. Only Denny McLain’s WHIP (0.91 in 1968) was lower. The four other pitchers in the live ball era besides Harvey with a 0.97 or lower WHIP in their age 24 or younger season won the Cy Young award that season.

If you look at the three things that a pitcher can most control -- walks, strikeouts and home runs -- Harvey was having a historic season. His FIP (fielding independent pitching) of 1.99 is the fourth-best in a season in the divisional era (since 1969).

Harvey has had some spectacular performances this season. He has six double-digit strikeout games, the most in the National League. He allowed one run or fewer in at least seven innings in each of his first four starts of the season. His most impressive outing was perhaps against the Chicago White Sox on May 7, when he became the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1992 with nine scoreless innings allowing only one hit with 12 strikeouts in a no decision.

Harvey will be the third pitcher in the modern era to finish a season with at least 25 starts, an ERA below 2.30, and no more than nine wins. The last to do so was George Bell for the 1907 Brooklyn Superbas. The other was Dummy Taylor in 1902 for the Cleveland Bronchos and New York Giants.

Scherzer, Cabrera streak past Mets

August, 24, 2013

Getty ImagesMatt Harvey faced off with Max Scherzer Saturday in a rematch of 2013 All-Star Game starters.
Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers shut out the New York Mets, 3-0, on Saturday, continuing the run of success for the Tigers’ right-hander. With the win, Scherzer improved to 19-1 on the year, the third pitcher in major league history to win at least 19 of his first 20 decisions in a season.

Scherzer joins Roger Clemens (2001 Yankees) and Rube Marquard (1912 Giants) who each also started their seasons 19-1. Clemens would go on to win the Cy Young award that Fall.

Scherzer finished with 11 strikeouts, his sixth game with double-digit punchouts in 2013. Entering Saturday, only the Rangers’ Yu Darvish had more this season league-wide.

Along with his six shutout innings on the mound, Scherzer also did some damage at the plate, knocking in his first run as a member of the Tigers with a double in the second inning. Before that at-bat, pitchers were just 3-for-56 (.054 BA) against Harvey in his career with 35 strikeouts and had yet to record an RBI.

Not to be outdone, Miguel Cabrera had two hits of his own, the 27th straight game in which he’s reached base safely. It’s Cabrera’s third such streak of at least 27 games this season—all other AL players have four such streaks combined (Mike Trout, Jason Kipnis, Billy Butler, and Jose Iglesias each have one).

In all, Cabrera has reached safely in nearly 96 percent of the games he’s played this season. According to Elias, only Frank Thomas in 1996 (97.2) and Ted Williams in 1949 (96.1) finished a season having reached base in a higher percentage of games played since 1900 (min. 100 games with 1+ PA).

On the other side of the diamond, Matt Harvey was the tough-luck loser despite allowing just two runs over 6⅔ innings pitched. He scattered a career-high 13 hits, and in doing so, became the first pitcher in over 50 years to allow two or fewer runs, 13 or more hits, AND lose the game. The last to do it was fellow Met Al Jackson back in 1962.

Saturday marked a rematch of this year’s All-Star starters in Harvey and Scherzer, and it’s not something that has happened often. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us it was the first time All-Star starters faced each other in the same regular season. There have been two previous instances in postseason play—Paul Derringer (Reds) against Red Ruffing (Yankees) in 1939 and Dwight Gooden (Mets) against Roger Clemens (Red Sox) in 1986.

Kernels of wisdom: MLB week in review

August, 12, 2013
The Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie went single-double-triple in Monday's 3-1 win over Seattle, becoming the first Toronto hitter this season to even have a triple and a double in one game. Had he also homered, Lawrie would have recorded the Jays' first cycle since Jeff Frye on August 17, 2001.

In Tuesday's game, the Astros didn't need to steal any bases (although they did have two). The Red Sox-- specifically catcher Ryan Lavarnway-- were giving away bases.

Handling knuckleballer Steven Wright's first career start, Lavarnway was charged with four passed balls in the first inning alone, tying the major league record for one inning. It's happened twice before in the modern era, and also with knuckleballers: On August 22, 1987, the Rangers' Geno Petralli committed four while catching Charlie Hough; and on September 10, 1954, the Giants' Ray Katt did it while trying to catch Hoyt Wilhelm.

AP Photo/ElsaMatt Harvey threw his 1st career shutout on Wednesday against the Rockies.

Matt Harvey, on the other hand, threw his first career shutout (and first complete game) on Wednesday, holding the Rockies to four singles as the Mets won 5-0. He also went through a start without walking a single batter, the eighth time this season he’s done that. Only Bartolo Colon and Hisashi Iwakuma (with 10 each) have more walk-less starts this season, of any length.

Harvey also threw nine scoreless innings with zero walks against the White Sox on May 7, but got neither a decision nor a complete game because the Mets didn't score either and the game went to extras. Clayton Kershaw and Chris Archer are the only other pitchers with multiple such games this season.

He's the first Mets pitcher to have multiple starts of 8+ scoreless, walk-less innings since Jason Isringhausen in 1995; and the first with a pair of NINE-inning games since Craig Swan in 1979.

Thursday's limited slate brought us a matchup between Detroit and Cleveland at Progressive Field. Although the outcome wasn't in much doubt when the Tigers took an 8-0 lead after 3˝ innings, the notable part of the boxscore was that both cleanup hitters (Prince Fielder and Asdrubal Cabrera) had two doubles and two runs driven in.

Strangely, it's only the second game in the past 20 years where BOTH cleanup hitters have had at least two doubles and two RBI. The other occurred when Fielder "teamed up" with the Rangers' Adrian Beltre to do it on May 19.

On Friday the Tigers had their 12-game winning streak (which matched their longest since 1934) on the line against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera. The Tigers, however, countered with Miguel Cabrera, who launched his 34th home run of the year - but first in the ninth inning or later - to tie the game.

It was only the second homer Rivera allowed to the Tigers in a save situation. Bobby Higginson hit the other way back on July 6, 1999.

In Sunday's finale between the Tigers and Yankees, the visitors from Motown trailed by two runs after eight innings. Enter Rivera. Enter Cabrera.

Same result as Friday as Cabrera hit his 36th home run of the season. By doing so, he became the first player ever to homer off Rivera in consecutive at-bats, and one of just five players to have multiple homers against Rivera.

Later that inning, Victor Martinez hit a solo homer to tie the game, handing Rivera his third consecutive blown save. Something he had never done in his career to that point.

Rivera was still officially the pitcher of record when Brett Gardner hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning. This was the 18th time Rivera has won a game after blowing a save, and the first since August 13, 2007.

How they won: Cy Young contenders

July, 21, 2013
Sunday was quite a day for good starting pitching. Thirteen different starters went at least seven innings and six pitchers who can make a case as a Cy Young contender pitched great en route to an eventual victory.

Here’s a statistical snapshot of what those pitchers did best.

Kershaw makes them chase
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw held the Washington Nationals to two runs and two hits in seven innings in Sunday’s sweep-completing win.

Kershaw made Nationals hitters chase his pitches. They swung at 22 of 50 thrown out of the strike zone. Kershaw’s 44 percent chase-rate was his highest in any start this season.

Nationals hitters were 0-for-9 against the pitches they chased, with six strikeouts.

They missed on nine of 18 swings they took against Kershaw’s curveball and slider.

Harvey dominant
What made NL All-Star starter Matt Harvey so good against the Philadelphia Phillies? Try this combo:

23 swings-and-misses, 1 shy of his career high set April 3, 2013 vs Padres

An average fastball of 97.4 mph (career-best)

Nine strikeouts with offspeed pitches (ties career-high)

Four strikeouts with his changeup (ties career-high)

Went to 2-0 count on only one hitter in seven innings

Harvey has owned the Phillies from the start of his career.

He’s yielded only four earned runs in 33 1/3 innings against them.

Locke’s key: shutting down righty bats
Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jeff Locke dropped his ERA to 2.11 with a six-inning effort in which he allowed one run and one hit in a win over the Cincinnati Reds that averted a Reds sweep.

Locke shut down the Reds right-handed hitters, holding them to 0-for-11 in this contest.

Righties are hitting .186 against Locke this season, the lowest of any of the 29 lefties who are currently qualified for the ERA title.

Wainwright handles Padres … again
Adam Wainwright beat the San Diego Padres, holding them to two runs over eight innings. He’s now 5-2 against the Padres with a 1.47 ERA and 4-0 with an 0.84 ERA in four home starts against them.

Wainwright won without his best curveball/slider combo. He allowed six hits with those pitches, his most in any start in the five seasons for which we have pitch-performance data.

Wainwright has thrived recently because of his escapability. In his last six starts, he’s held opponents to a .161 batting average and .434 OPS with men on base.

Colon cruising
Bartolo Colon threw his third shutout of the season, and his second since he turned 40 on May 24. In the past 25 seasons, only 3 other pitchers threw multiple shutouts in the same season after turning 40—Nolan Ryan (1989, 1990, 1991), Dennis Martinez (1995) and Randy Johnson (2004).

Colon won in his usual method, by spotting a fastball that he threw 101 times in 110 pitches and was tough to hit far. Colon induced 12 fly ball outs. In his last three starts, Colon has generated 23 fly balls. Of those, 22 have been caught.
Also consider this about Colon: His road ERA (2.54) is almost identical to his home ERA (2.50). Eighteen other ERA-title qualifiers have an ERA as good or better than Colon at home this season. But only seven have a road ERA as low as his.

Astros easy work for King Felix
Felix Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings in a win over the Houston Astros. Hernandez has a 1.54 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his last five starts.

Like with Wainwright, Hernandez has found a way to escape tough situations. In his last five starts, opponents are 1-for-16 against him with multiple men on base, including 0-for-3 on Sunday.

Pitching riches overwhelm in All-Star Game

July, 17, 2013
Robert Deutsch/USA Today SportsIn Mariano Rivera's final All-Star Game, pitching ruled the day.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching was the dominant statistical storyline in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.

This year’s contest was, like last year’s, a shutout, marking the first time in All-Star Game history that consecutive games were shutouts.

The three runs scored were the fewest combined by the two teams in an All-Star Game since 1990, when the AL won 2-0. The teams combined to hit .197 with the NL managing only three hits, tied for the second-fewest in an All-Star Game.

With the win, the AL will hold home-field advantage in this year’s World Series.

Let’s run through some of the highlights.

Mariano Rivera the MVP
Mariano Rivera won MVP honors, which wasn’t so much for this game (in which he pitched a scoreless eighth inning), but was more of a lifetime achievement award to commemorate his great career.

Rivera pitched nine innings in his All-Star career and allowed one unearned run. The only pitcher to pitch more All-Star innings without allowing an earned run was Mel Harder, who pitched for the Cleveland Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Rivera got a “hold” in this game and not a save. His four All-Star Game saves are the most all-time.

Rivera is the first pitcher who was primarily used by his major league team as a relief pitcher to earn All-Star Game MVP honors. He’s the second to pitch in relief in the game and earn MVP, joining Jon Matlack, a starter on the 1975 New York Mets who shared MVP honors in that year’s All-Star Game.

Rivera is the first pitcher to win All-Star Game MVP since Pedro Martinez in 1999 and the second Yankees player to win it, joining Derek Jeter in 2000.

Elias notes that he’ll join Cal Ripken Jr. as the only players to win All-Star Game MVP in their final seasons.

The young guys were very impressive
NL starter Matt Harvey, the first New York Mets pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Dwight Gooden in 1988, looked sharp after letting the first two hitters reach base. He was the first Mets pitcher to throw two scoreless innings in an All-Star Game since Gooden in 1984.

Harvey continued a run of dominance by Mets pitchers making their All-Star debuts. The 11 pitchers have combined for 12 2/3 scoreless innings, with 20 strikeouts.

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale earned the win. He was the first AL pitcher to throw two perfect innings in an All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2001. He’s the first White Sox pitcher to win an All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle in 2005.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez struck out a pair of hitters in the sixth inning to become the third pitcher age 20 or younger with multiple strikeouts in an All-Star Game, joining Gooden (1984) and Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

The combined line for those three -- five innings pitched, one hit allowed, seven strikeouts. The trio has 93 career starts between them.

The AL benefited from a couple of nifty examples of teamwork en route to the win.

Jhonny Peralta, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera each had at least one hit in the game. It’s the first time that the Detroit Tigers have had three different players get a hit in an All-Star Game.

On the pitching side, Toronto Blue Jays relievers Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar combined for the last two outs of the seventh inning by striking out left-handed hitting Domonic Brown and right-handed hitting Buster Posey.
Cecil has held lefties to a .154 on-base percentage this season, the lowest for anyone in the majors this season.

Delabar has struck out 150 batters in 108 innings over the last two seasons. His rate of 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings is eighth-best in the majors in that span.

Did You Know?
The NL finished with only four baserunners, the fewest in a game for either team since 1995 and the fewest for the NL in an All-Star Game since 1968.

The AL grounded into an All-Star Game-record four double plays.

Joe Nathan recorded the save. The only other Rangers pitcher to record a save in an All-Star Game was John Wetteland in 1999. You might remember Wetteland as the pitcher who preceded Rivera as Yankees closer.

Top stats to know: 2013 All-Star Game

July, 16, 2013
The National League and American League will meet in the All-Star Game for the 84th time on Tuesday night at 8 ET. Let's run through some of the notable storylines for this game.

Statistical overview
The NL leads the all-time series 43-38-2 and has won the past three games, but the AL won the previous seven. The winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, which is meaningful when you consider that teams with home-field advantage have won 22 of the past 27 World Series.

The NL has claimed both the All-Star Game and the World Series title in each of the past three years. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, should the NL win both again this year, it would tie the record (the NL also did it from 1979 to 1982).

The past five All-Star Games have been relatively low scoring, with the leagues combining for 32 runs. The AL has managed only two runs combined in the past three games, hitting a combined .189.

The NL will try for its longest All-Star Game winning streak since winning 11 straight from 1972 to 1982.

AL lineup: mashers galore
The AL has the advantage on paper in terms of offensive firepower in its starting lineup, with the top two home run hitters in the sport hitting cleanup and third in Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera.

The NL starting lineup features seven batters with .300-or-better batting averages to the AL's six. But the AL has the advantage in home runs, 185-136, featuring six hitters with at least 19 homers this season.

Starting pitching matchup: Scherzer vs. Harvey
The starting pitchers Tuesday night will be Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.

Harvey, who at 24 will be the youngest pitcher to start the All-Star Game since 23-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1988, will hope to fare better than the last pitcher to start the All-Star Game in his home ballpark. As a member of the Houston Astros, Roger Clemens allowed six runs to the American League in the first inning of the 2004 All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park.

Scherzer has a statistical connection to Clemens as well. He was the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 or better since Clemens did in 1986. Clemens started and won the All-Star Game that year, taking home MVP honors for his three perfect innings en route to a win in the Astrodome.

Harvey (7-2) and Scherzer (13-1) have a combined .870 winning percentage this season. According to Elias, it's the third-highest percentage for opposing starters in an All-Star Game. Randy Johnson and David Wells combined for an .879 winning percentage in 2000, while Johnson and Hideo Nomo had a combined .882 percentage in 1995.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Harvey has 29 career starts on his résumé, the fewest of any All-Star Game starter since Nomo (13) in 1995.

For more on the pitching matchup, check out our post from Monday afternoon.

Rivera’s last All-Star Game
Mariano Rivera was named to his 13th All-Star Game, the second most for any pitcher in major league history, trailing only Warren Spahn’s 17.

Rivera has actually appeared in eight All-Star Games. The only pitcher with more appearances is Clemens with 10.

Rivera has four All-Star Game saves, the most all time (one more than Dennis Eckersley), with his last coming in 2009. Rivera’s All-Star Game ERA is 0.00, with one unearned run allowed in eight innings. The only pitcher with more career All-Star innings and no earned runs allowed is Mel Harder with 13.

Rivera is tied with Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio for the third-most selections in Yankees history. Only Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18) have more.

Harvey, Scherzer will bring the heat

July, 15, 2013
Getty ImagesMatt Harvey and Max Scherzer have been rewarded for their dominance.
Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland named their starting pitchers for Tuesday night's All-Star game, tabbing Matt Harvey and Max Scherzer as the game's pitchers.

Let's run through what made that pair deserving of the honor.

NL Starter: Matt Harvey
Harvey is the first pitcher to start the All-Star Game in his home ballpark since Roger Clemens in 2004 and the fifth to do so in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

This will mark the fourth time a Mets pitcher has started an All-Star game. The other instances were by Tom Seaver in 1970 and Dwight Gooden in both 1986 and 1988.

Harvey’s 147 strikeouts at the All-Star Break are tied with Seaver’s 1973 mark for fourth-most in Mets history. His 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings ranks second-best among those with at least 80 innings pitched at the All-Star Break, right between Dwight Gooden (10.8 in 1984) and David Cone (10.0 in 1990).

Harvey’s biggest improvement this season has been in avoiding walks. He has 28 walks in 130 innings this season. That’s only two more walks than he had in 59 1/3 innings in his 10 starts last season. He’s nearly halved his walk rate from 10.6 percent of hitters faced to 5.6 percent this season.

What does Harvey do best? He’s averaging 95.6 mph with his fastball this season. That’s the fastest of any pitcher who has qualified for the ERA title this season, just ahead of Stephen Strasburg.

He’s been an effective four-pitch pitcher in the Justin Verlander mold. He’s generated misses on 28 percent of swings against him this season. The only starting pitchers with a better miss rate are Yu Darvish (33 percent), Tim Lincecum (29 percent) and Max Scherzer (29 percent).

AL Starter: Max Scherzer
Scherzer finished with a 13-1 mark at the All-Star Break, the only blemish being a loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Scherzer entered that start with a chance to tie or beat the mark for most wins without a loss at the All-Star Break, held by Dave McNally (13-0, 1969 Orioles).

Scherzer gives the Tigers the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game in consecutive seasons. Justin Verlander started for the American League last season.

The last time a league had different starting pitchers from the same team in consecutive years was in 2001 and 2002, when Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling started for the NL as representatives from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The last instance in the American League was in 1989-1990 when Dave Stewart and Bob Welch of the Oakland Athletics started.

Scherzer has been the beneficiary of considerably more run support than Harvey, which may explain why he has 13 wins to Harvey’s seven. The Tigers have scored 112 runs in Scherzer’s 19 starts. The Mets have scored 79 runs for Harvey.

Nonetheless, Scherzer has been terrific this season. His 4.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best of his career.

Scherzer, like Harvey, brings the heat. His 73 strikeouts with his fastball are the most of any American League pitcher. He throws the pitch at an average speed of 93.2 mph, trailing only Derek Holland’s 93.4 among AL starting pitchers.

Scherzer also gets big-time results with his curveball/slider combination. His 42.4 percent miss rate with those pitches is fifth-best among major-league starters.

Scherzer will benefit from being outside of Comerica Park. His 2.20 road ERA this season is the best of any pitcher in the American League.

Did You Know?
• A starting pitcher has been the winning pitcher only once in the last seven All-Star games—Matt Cain last season.

• The last Mets pitcher to win an All-Star Game was Jon Matlack in relief in 1975. He and Tug McGraw are the only two Mets pitchers to win an All-Star Game.

• A Tigers pitcher hasn’t won the All-Star Game since Jim Bunning in 1957.

Goldschmidt looks to counter Harvey's heat

July, 3, 2013
The Arizona Diamondbacks look to snap a season-high five-game losing streak when they face the New York Mets on Wednesday Night Baseball (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The big matchup at Citi Field is between Mets’ ace Matt Harvey and Diamondbacks’ young slugger Paul Goldschmidt.

Less than two weeks from the All-Star game, Harvey is one of the favorites to start for the NL while Goldschmidt’s first half has also made him deserving of an All-Star starting spot.

Last season, Harvey made his MLB debut July 26 in Arizona. He set a Mets record for strikeouts in a debut with 11, including fanning Goldschmidt all three times he faced him, twice looking on fastballs away and once swinging on a heater high and tight.

Harvey likes to work up in the zone, where he’s been extremely effective. He has thrown 38 percent of his pitches this season in the upper-third or above the strike zone. That’s the second-highest rate in the NL, behind only Barry Zito. On such pitches, he has limited opponents to a .475 OPS.

But Goldschmidt has been the best high-ball hitter in the NL this season. His OPS on such pitches is 1.185, nearly 100 points higher than the next hitter. He also leads the circuit with nine home runs and a .367 batting average on pitches up or above the strike zone.

ESPN Stats & Information
Harvey’s fastball this season has averaged 95.6 miles per hour. That’s the fastest among starters who qualify for the ERA title. And he’s held opponents to a .192 average on at-bats ending with a fastball.

Thanks to that heater, Harvey has been one of the toughest pitchers in baseball for right-handed batters to pull the ball against this season as shown on the image to the right.

Why is that important? The league slugs .635 when pulling the ball as opposed to a .453 mark when going the other way.

Goldschmidt hasn’t been a slouch against fast pitches. He has nine hits this season off pitches thrown at least 95 miles per hour, tied for fourth-most in the National League.

Goldschmidt’s All-Star Case
The Diamondbacks’ first baseman is second in NL All-Star voting, trailing Joey Votto by more than half a million votes.

But considering traditional and advanced statistics, Goldschmidt has had a better season. He has driven in 30 more runs than Votto, and leads the NL in Win Probability Added.

Quick Hits
•  Arizona has dropped 10 of its last 11 road games and seven of its last eight at Citi Field.

•  No Diamondbacks’ starter has recorded a win since Wade Miley on June 5; every other team in the majors has had at least four wins from its starters in that span.

•  The Mets have six wins when trailing after eight innings, the most in the majors.

Kernels: Friday fun

June, 30, 2013

Steve Mitchell/Getty Images
Mets Pitcher Matt Harvey is one player who had a good day on Friday.

This week's theme is "Friday."

In the 16-game slate from June 28, all of this happened (and more).

The Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox played a rainout-induced doubleheader starting at 4:10 CT.

• The White Sox opened with five runs off Trevor Bauer, who threw 49 pitches and didn't get out of the inning. It was one shy of the season high (Ian Kennedy threw 50 in an inning on June 6). Bauer was the first pitcher to leave a doubleheader in the first inning of the first game since Rolando Arrojo of Boston on Sept. 21, 2000.

• Seven Indians had at least 2 RBIs, the first time they'd done that in exactly 63 years. Larry Doby, Al Rosen and Ray Boone contributed to an 18-2 blowout of the St. Louis Browns on June 28, 1950.

• Brian Omogrosso surrendered nine runs in 2.1 innings and took the loss. No White Sox reliever had allowed nine in a game since Scott Eyre against the Red Sox on June 26, 1999. They hadn't had a reliever do it in less than three innings since George Payne allowed nine to the Yankees on July 17, 1920.

• Final score of Game 1: 19-10. The 29 combined runs were the most in a game this season. The Indians have scored 19 twice this season, the second such time in their history they've scored 19 or more runs twice in a season (1923).

• Turnabout is fair play. On Sept. 2, 2001, also at Comiskey Park, the White Sox beat the Indians 19-10. Catcher Tim Laker played the role of Casper Wells, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.

• Only one other Cleveland team has played a 19-10 game in MLB history. That also was in Chicago, but it was not the Indians. It was the Cleveland Spiders, who lost by that score to the NL's White Stockings (who later became the Cubs) on Sept. 19, 1889.

• With a brief rain delay between games, the second game, which the Indians won 9-8, didn't end until 1:06 a.m. According to Elias, the combined game times of 7 hours, 53 minutes set a record for the longest 18-inning doubleheader in major-league history.

• The Indians hadn't scored 28 runs in a day since June 18, 1950, when they swept a pair from the Philadelphia Athletics, 7-0 and 21-2.

Elsewhere around the Majors on Friday

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 16-1, their most runs ever at Dodger Stadium. They did win 19-10 – there’s that score again! — in the L.A. Coliseum in 1961.It was their second-largest margin of victory against the Dodgers franchise. The Phillies beat the then-Brooklyn Bridegrooms 22-5 at Eastern Park on April 24, 1894.

Phillies right fielder Delmon Young drove in six runs on two singles, a double and a groundout. Since RBI became an official stat in 1920, only one other Phillies hitter has driven in six runs in a game without a homer: shortstop Granny Hamner, who had two doubles and a single with seven RBI against the Cardinals on July 17, 1948.

A few hours after Bauer’s 49-pitch inning for Cleveland, St. Louis Cardinals starter Trevor Miller threw 51 pitches in the second inning against Oakland -- also only getting two outs before being relieved. Miller’s high-water mark would stand for only one day before Wade Davis of the Royals threw 53 pitches in a five-run first inning against Minnesota on Saturday.

The New York Mets' Matt Harvey struck out 11 Nationals and walked zero. It was his third game this season going seven innings with no walks and double-digit strikeouts. That leads the majors. Harvey hasn’t won any of them. He was in line on Friday until the bullpen gave up five runs. The last pitcher to have three such games in a season without a win was Vida Blue, who had two 11-inning no-decisions and a 1-0 complete-game loss for Oakland in 1971.

Wright goes extra in Mets' big win

June, 23, 2013

Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesDavid Wright and Matt Harvey (left) led the Mets to their biggest shutout win ever at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004.
David Wright took over the voting lead among National League third basemen for the All-Star game on Sunday. Then he went out and tied a franchise record with a career-high four extra-base hits to lead the New York Mets to an 8-0 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies.

He’s the ninth Met with four extra-base hits in a game and the Phillies tried everything to get him out. His first three at-bats -- a flyout and two doubles -- came against fastballs. As Phillies pitchers switched it up, he adjusted, tripling against a changeup and finally homering on a slider out of the strike zone.

It was his first home run on a pitch out of the strike zone in nearly three years, when he homered on a changeup down and in on July 30, 2010.

Wright is only the third with two doubles, a triple and a home run in the same game, joining Alex Ochoa and Darryl Strawberry. Ochoa and Tim Bogar are the only Mets with four extra-base hits in a game against the Phillies.

Wright is the first player with four extra-base hits against the Phillies since Miguel Cabrera in 2005, and his performance was part of a season-high nine extra-base hits for the Mets.

This was all in support of Matt Harvey, who won his second straight start after going 1-1 in his previous 10 starts. He improved to 7-1 this season and lowered his ERA to 2.05, becoming the first Mets pitcher to win twice in one season at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004.

Harvey didn’t need to mess around with this Phillies lineup. He threw 68 percent fastballs, his highest rate since his first start of the season, and he averaged 97.2 MPH with it, the highest in any start of his career.

He threw 23 of them at 98 MPH or faster, the second most by any starter in a single game this season (Gerrit Cole threw 25 such pitches on Friday). Opponents went 0-for-6 in at-bats ending with a 98+ MPH fastball and are 0-for-23 this season against Harvey’s fastballs thrown at least 98 MPH.

One of Harvey's pitches was clocked at 100.1 MPH, on a strikeout of Ben Revere in the second inning, one of just 10 pitches by a starter thrown over 100 MPH this season. Harvey has thrown two of them and Cole has thrown the other eight, and all of them were thrown this week.

It was the Mets’ largest shutout win against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and their largest in Philadelphia since June 5, 2001, a 9-0 win at Veterans Stadium.

It’s the seventh shutout loss for the Phillies this season, who were shut out only six times all of last season.

Breaking balls key for Wainwright, Harvey

June, 13, 2013

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Adam Wainwright will look for his 10th win of the season Thursday against Matt Harvey and the Mets.

Thursday afternoon, two of the early National League Cy Young favorites go head-to-head as Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals face rookie Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

Wainwright has finished in the top three of the NL Cy Young voting twice but is on pace for the best season of his career.

He has 91 strikeouts and just seven walks in 96 innings pitched and is on pace to set the Modern Era record (since 1900) for K-to-BB ratio (13.0), set by Bret Saberhagen (11.0) in 1994.

It’s more than twice as good as the next-closest starter this season, Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (6.2 K-to-BB).

Last season Wainwright ranked 35th among starters in walk rate, issuing just 52 free passes in 32 starts. At his current pace this season, he'd need to pitch 713 innings and make 96 starts before he walked his 52nd hitter.

How Wainwright is Doing It
We know that Wainwright's curveball is one of the best weapons in the game, with the fifth-biggest vertical break among starting pitchers this season (9.5 inches).

But he mixes things up, not relying on one pitch. When he was at ESPN this week, Wainwright told us that he works hard to avoid falling into a pattern. And he’s done a good job of that this season.

He’s thrown curveballs at least 30 percent of the time in three of his starts, and fewer than 21 percent in five others.

Three times, he’s thrown changeups at least 10 percent of the time, but in three others he hasn’t even thrown one.

Another thing he told us is that he’s throwing his cutter harder this season and the numbers back that up. His cutter is maxing out at 92.2 MPH this season, up from 91.0 last season.

And with that, the effectiveness of the pitch has increased greatly. Opponents are hitting almost 90 points lower against his cutter this season and are swinging-and-missing almost twice as often against it.

Primetime Matchup
Opposing Wainwright for the Mets will be the young phenom Harvey. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 starts this season (only three pitchers have more).

But has the league started to figure him out?

His ERA and opponents’ batting average has risen each month this season -- it's early in June but in two starts he has a 3.75 ERA and opponents are hitting .340 against him.

What's made Harvey more mortal?

June, 2, 2013
Matt Harvey set a New York Mets record by being unbeaten through his first 12 starts of a season. It’s the deepest any starter for the team has gone without a loss, surpassing the mark of 11 set by Armando Reynoso in 1997.

That was the one good thing to come from his outing Sunday, in which he recorded a no-decision in the Mets third straight loss to the Marlins.

Harvey has looked a little more mortal of late.

Let’s compare how he has fared recently with how he started the season in two respects:

Harvey's heater more hittable
If there is any sort of “issue” for the Mets to examine more closely with Harvey, it would be his rate of getting missed swings, particularly with his fastball.

Harvey was getting misses with his heater at a 30 percent rate through the first seven starts of the season. That has dipped to 17 percent in these past five starts, resulting in his strikeout total being a little bit lower of late.

Though some might think that this would result from a velocity dip, that’s not the case here. In fact, Harvey has thrown a faster fastball on average in these past five starts (95.6 mph) than in those first seven.

This may be an issue dealing more with location than speed. Take a look at this image:

Left: Matt Harvey's fastball location in his first seven starts.

Right: Harvey's fastball location in his past five starts (note the height differential).
When Harvey was performing at his best, he yielded a high rate of missed swings on fastballs in the upper part of the strike zone, or up around the eyes (36 percent).

But Harvey is throwing that pitch less often lately. He has gone from averaging 32 “high” fastballs per game over those first seven starts to 23 in his past five starts (with a similar, slightly lower number of fastballs per start).

Those have been replaced by fastballs lower in the zone, as the image above shows.

More balls falling in
In his first seven starts in 2013, Harvey was almost completely unhittable. He was getting misses on nearly one-third of his swings and had held opponents to a .133/.191/.188 batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentags slashline and only two home runs.

But in his past five starts, he has gotten hit a little bit. Balls that were being caught have not been caught (such as a first-inning triple on Sunday that Rick Ankiel initially broke in on) and his slashline is .265/.305/.364.

Harvey has been hit a little harder, though not a lot. He only allowed one “hard-hit” ball against the Marlins on Sunday (our video-review system classifies balls as being hit “hard,” “medium” or soft”).

Opponents have recorded a hard-hit ball in 11 percent of their at-bats against him in these past five starts, which equates to one hard-hit ball each time through the lineup.

That still rates in the top 10 percent (11th-best) among major league starting pitchers in that same time span.

The difference is that the balls that are classified as “soft” and “medium” hit are now falling in. The chart on the right shows the difference for Harvey when he has induced soft or ordinary contact.

Looking ahead
Harvey will make his next start this coming weekend, also against the Marlins, with this one coming at Citi Field.

The Marlins are a good barometer to evaluate whether Harvey is adjusting. His two shortest starts of the season have come against them.

Aces up for Yankees & Mets tonight

May, 28, 2013

Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsMatt Harvey faces his childhood team at Citi Field tonight.
The New York Mets face the New York Yankees tonight (7 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN), looking to win three straight games for the first time since April 8.

Harvey on the Hill
The Mets have their ace going, with erstwhile Yankees fan Matt Harvey on the mound.

When Harvey starts this season, the Mets are 7-3, but they're a mere 12-26 in all other games.

Harvey aims for his 11th straight start without a loss to begin the season, which would tie the Mets franchise record held by Armando Reynoso, who began the 1997 season with a 5-0 record and a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts.

This will be Harvey's 21st career start, and Elias tells us that his 2.30 ERA is the best by any Mets pitcher through 20 career starts.

Harvey's repertoire begins with his fastball, which has averaged 95.1 miles per hour this season, trailing only Stephen Strasburg among qualified starters. Over 50 percent of Harvey’s fastballs have been located up in the strike zone this season, the highest rate among all starters.

His changeup has been particularly effective against lefties, who are batting .077 in at-bats ending with a changeup this season and whiffing on 38 percent of swings against it.

The combination of pitches has resulted in Harvey owning MLB's lowest opponents' OPS against the fourth-through-seventh spots in the lineup this season at .354.

Kuroda Crushes Righties
Fourth on that list is tonight's Yankees starter, Hiroki Kuroda, who is allowing an AL-low .231 on-base percentage to opponents hitting fourth through seventh.
Hiroki Kuroda
The right-handed Kuroda has been especially lethal against right-handed hitters, limiting them to a .178 average with 21 strikeouts and three walks this season.

Kuroda leads Yankees starters with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP this season, and his 1.6 wins above replacement are more than double any other Yankees starting pitcher.

If Kuroda gets his bullpen a lead, the game may be over, as the Yankees are a perfect 25-0 when leading at the start of the eighth inning. Then again, David Robertson allowed the game-winning run to the Mets in the eighth inning on Monday, for the Yankees first loss all season when leading after six innings.

Despite that hiccup, the Yankees bullpen has a 1.88 ERA this May, and Mariano Rivera has converted all 18 of his save chances this season.

As noted here, Rivera has 20 regular-season saves in 22 chances against the Mets. His 91 percent conversion rate is third-best among the 17 pitchers with at least 20 save chances against the Mets, trailing John Smoltz (24-for-24) and Randy Myers (21-for-21).

Series Sweep?
With this two-game series officially ending tonight before the teams shift to Yankee Stadium tomorrow, the Mets could take a set from the Yankees for the first time since 2010 at Citi Field. The Yankees have won five straight series against the Mets and hold a 54-37 edge in the regular-season series.