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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Early-Season Numbers

Tonight your still-winless recapper takes on the question all of us are suddenly forced to take on: What’s wrong with Matt Harvey?

To be sure, it’s April. If you’re panicking in April, you’re either new to this or ought to broaden your interests. Walking across Brooklyn on a beautiful day, Joshua and I had a long discussion about small sample sizes and the 2016 Mets. My kid is sound in terms of numeracy (particularly compared with me) and admires and craves logic, yet he’s also 13 and so is developing a teen predilection for alerting the populace to imminent apocalypses. These two impulses don’t play nicely together, and there wasn’t much I could do except shrug and say we’d see.

Harvey had sounded invulnerable on MLB At Bat, but when we got home he got dented, then dinged, and finally driven from the game, leaving the Mets trying to make up a sobering deficit and falling short. The loss kept them below .500 and created a boom market in worried Harvey analysis.

What’s wrong? Dan Warthen thinks it’s a mechanical flaw and says they’re working on it. He sees that flaw as most pronounced in the stretch. The Indians’ postgame comments also focused on the two faces of Harvey: from the windup (bestial) and from the stretch (beatable).

Maybe … but even when Harvey was in his full windup and blitzing through the lineup, the velocity on the fastball wasn’t there. Harvey was sitting at 92 to 93 and hitting 94, instead of 95 to 96 and hitting 97. He befuddled the Indians once through the order and then got whacked, with Jose Ramirez and old friend Juan Uribe and annoyingly competent Jason Kipnis and Mike Napoli and Yan Gomes doing rude things that caused neck strain and mound-kicking.

And the velocity hasn’t been there all spring.

So what does that mean? Maybe it’s a hangover from 2015 being so happily extended — Jacob deGrom‘s velocity has also been lacking in the early going. (Though for now please save your concerns for deGrom the person instead of deGrom the pitcher.) If that’s the case, the smart money says the missing velocity should report for duty, late but much welcomed.

I sure hope the smart money’s right. Because pitchers break, in ways big and small. If this were one of those ubiquitous GEICO ads, right about now someone would say it’s what they do. Having a staff of young fireballers who are also students of their craft is surpassingly rare; having such a staff stay consistently healthy is rarer still.

At least the bats are showing signs of escaping their spring torpor, which is probably just a narrative lover’s way of saying the cosmic random-number generator has been more favorable of late. Yoenis Cespedes‘s eighth-inning home run off Bryan Shaw wasn’t quite in the same bat-flip-worthy pantheon as his NLDS vaporization of an Alex Wood fastball, but it was still a mighty thing; Neil Walker‘s home run to the other field two batters later didn’t have quite the same thunder and panache but still added up to 421 feet of good news.

But the Mets still came up short, so enough with the good news. The scenarios for a second straight glorious orange and blue season all begin with dominant starting pitching; if that’s not in the offing, the scenarios are rather less glorious.

Again, though, it’s April. All we can do is what I reluctantly recommended to Joshua: shrug and say that we’ll see.

9 comments to Early-Season Numbers

  • Matt in Woodside

    After the fourth inning, I wasn’t hoping for a perfect game. That’s too much to hope for. But I did think Harvey was on his way to one of those Maddux-like 95 pitch complete games. 38 pitches in four innings. Struck out the side in the first with 10. Harvey said late last year that he was trying not to focus so much on strikeouts and that he wanted to go deeper into games. I think, as Keith said before everything fell apart, he’s working on ways to pitch to contact. I’m sure he’s not thrilled with today, but those first four innings were fantastic. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in terms of arm strength or injury.

  • Mikey

    I seriously would not be so worried if the nats werent 9-1. Thats the part im wrestling with…they are more games back than almost every team in baseball right now.

    I know that will even out but it is still there right now

    And for the love of g-d can we not get thrown out at home or second every game? Can we get any runner in scoring position home without a home run? Can our catcher ever throw anyone out? And can we have a game where the other team doesnt make at least two spectacular plays? All of that plus the meh starting pitching and overworked bullpen has to make you worry a bit..especially when chasing the ’27 yankees

  • Dave

    This is why I’ve cringed every time somebody made a comment on Twitter or a blog or something that this was the greatest rotation ever assembled. The Mets have exactly one starting pitcher with an actual track record to speak of, and he’s an overweight middle aged guy.

    The Nats will cool off, the Mets will sharpen up some aspects of their game that currently aren’t working, but it’s the middle of April. Jason sums it up perfectly…we’ll see.

  • Rob E.

    Harvey’s start to the season is not what we wanted and nobody counted on deGrom missing starts. The whole team hasn’t been sharp (except for Thor & Colon), the clutch hitting has been non-existent, and on top of that the bounces have not gone our way. That being said, Washington was way back last season after the Mets hot April, and they caught and passed us before they fell apart. When the Mets were something like six games up with 10 to play people were worried. There are 152 games left to straighten things out. Again, not the start we wanted, but Harvey’s not going to go 0-27 and Washington is not going to play .900 ball all year. Almost all these guys have something to play for. Maybe the expectations have gotten to them a little as the season starts, but I don’t think this is a team that’s going to get fat & lazy.

  • eric1973

    Speaking of being fat and lazy, congrats to Legares for losing 25 pounds (he looks super), but it looks like he gave them all to Cespedes! Guy looks as big as a house. I think they had to put those seats on the DL that he crashed into the other day. Hope he can be productive while looking like that, but his CF days may be over.

  • lmb

    Harvey “got dented”? The two faces of Harvey? Holy indiscriminatenes! Sounds like those early season numbers are as random as the outcome of a flip of a coin.

  • Mikey

    As i watch the mets bats come to life and the other team bumbling early in this rubber game i feel like the mets heard my overreaction and said screw that mets fan in wisconsin

    Also with #20 and eye black at just the right angle walker looks like hojo

  • Daniel Hall

    So Mr. Fry is usually doing the Tuesday games, right? So, c’mon Mets! – especially on Tuesday, to give our co-host the win he deserves!

  • NostraDennis

    In my eyes, Harvey’s now the fifth-best starter on this team (fourth, until Matz righted himself so quickly), and slightly more valuable to the Mets in his current form than Jenrry Mejia. If he continues being so mediocre, his agent won’t have to worry about an innings limit this year.