Tar Heels in the Pros: Matt Harvey Is Baseball’s Next Ace


Apr 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey (33) delivers to the plate during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets defeated the Phillies 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With the first week of Major League Baseball down and the regular season now in full swing, several teams and players are beginning to standout. Whether its teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Oakland A’s, or players like Bryce Harper and Justin Upton, the season has started with a handful of positive story-lines.

In New York rite now, for Mets fans they are witnessing something fans at Chapel Hill got to see a few years ago. When it comes to young starting pitching and overall efficient pitching thus far in the Majors for 2013, Matt Harvey has started the season especially well for the New York Mets(5-4).

The onetime UNC Tar Heel hurler came on the MLB scene last year and showed from the start his arm was more than Big League ready throwing in the mid to high 90’s fastballs consistently. Harvey finished the 2012 season with 10 starts, pitching 59.1 innings, recorded 70 strikeouts, allowed 42 hits and 18 earned runs. The New London, Connecticut native allowed just 5 home runs but walked 26 batters. Harvey’s 2.73 ERA was the same as his then National League Cy Young Award winning teammates, R.A. Dickey. Though Dickey had more than triple the innings pitched as Harvey in 2012, the two of them were tied atop the Mets in ERA to end the season, among starters with ten or more starts.

Fast forward to today and through Matt Harvey’s first two starts of 2013 he finds himself ranked in the top ten of every major statistical category for starting pitchers in the National League. Harvey is 2-0 with a .64 ERA and has gone at least seven innings in both games totaling 14 on the season. Another big number is his 19 strikeouts, which is third in the NL and tied for third in the Majors. His WHIP is .57 ranking him 4th in MLB, meaning the average number of walks and hits divided by the number of innings pitched through the first 10 or so games is among the best in baseball. The icing on the cake for Harvey in some ways could has been now after the two games he has put himself in a rare category along with the likes of Nolan Ryan, David Cone, and Pedro Martinez. He joined Nolan Ryan as the only other pitcher in Mets history to open the season with 3 or fewer hits in seven plus innings in their teams first two starts. When it comes to Cone and Pedro, Harvey joined the two of them as the only group of Mets to start a season with two straight games of 9 or more strikeouts. Really some rarefied company for the former Diamond Heel ace.

Overall the start of 2013 has been one of the best we have seen from a former Tar Heel pitcher in recent memory. Matt Harvey has showed all of the tools to become not just a star for the New York Mets, but an overall star in Major League Baseball. Lucky for New York Mets fans and Tar Heels fans alike he decided to go to UNC instead of taking the money he was offered by the LA Angels in 2007 after being drafted 118th overall out of High School.

Either way Matt Harvey is here to stay in the MLB and has been one of the best to start 2013, and as long as the Mets can keep scoring some runs for him, combined with his ability to strikeout batters consistently, I see Harvey filling in just fine long-term as the Mets new ace. The aforementioned R.A. Dickey is gone from New York , yet when it comes to his All-Star selection, 20 wins, and Cy Young Award from 2012, the thought of those things never happening again for a Mets starting pitcher would be crazy. Harvey could accomplish two of the three by the end of this season. Also, what may be more appealing with Matt Harvey is the success could happen for several years to come, whereas Dickey may have seen the last of his dominating years. All signs point to the 24-year old Harvey being a major part of the New York Mets and the future of their franchise.