Matt Harvey is trying to work his way back up the Superhero mountain. Just three years ago he was the Dark Knight, lauded as a bulldog; a flame-throwing ace and the King of Queens. But since his final pitch in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, Harvey has tumbled off the crag with results more comparable to the The Riddler and The Joker.
Over the last two seasons — 2016 and 2017 — Harvey has made 35 starts, recording a 9-17 record with a 5.78 ERA. Injuries and inconsistency have rewritten his baseball bio.
On Wednesday, Harvey made his Spring Training debut, pitching two innings, allowing one run and two hits against the Atlanta Braves. Each and every one of his 38-pitch performance was under the microscope.
How hard was he throwing? What was his best fastball? How was his command? For the record, Harvey’s fastball was registering between 92-94 mph. His peak velocity: 96 mph.
“He looked really good today,” said Mets manager Mickey Callaway.
Harvey’s performance on Wednesday was unremarkable. Just average. Good for a first spring start, yes. Good, as in the 2013 or 2015 Harvey? Not quite. Not yet, anyway.
If you are a Mets fan it’s understandable why everyone was holding their breath. This is what happens when fear and hope collide. Fans want to believe that at age 28 the once dominant star can rise again to be the awe-inspiring Dark Knight; that the Batman masks will return in waves to Citi Field; that the days he starts will once again be known as “Happy Harvey Day.”
The only way back to the life of high expectation is through performance.
But, wait. Callaway pumped the breaks on the expectations. Don’t expect the Dark Knight in 2018 … rather than some superhero, New York merely needs Harvey to be serviceable in a way he hasn’t been in the last two seasons.