UNC Baseball: Matt Harvey makes his return to New York

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 15: Matt Harvey #32 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning at Progressive Field on June 15, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 15: Matt Harvey #32 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning at Progressive Field on June 15, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

For the second time this season, the former UNC baseball standout will return to New York — this time to face his former cross-town rival.

The Dark Knight returns to his old stomping grounds in Gotham, but this time is a lot different than when the former UNC baseball standout first broke into Major League Baseball.

Back in 2010, the New York Mets selected Matt Harvey with the seventh overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft. The former Tar Heel quickly rose through the organization, and made his Major League debut just two years later.

On July 26, 2012, Harvey was impressive in his first career start. The right-hander picked up the victory, setting a club record with 11 strikeouts in his debut.

From that point on, Harvey-mania began.

After making 10 starts during the second half of the 2012 season, Harvey started the 2013 campaign as a permanent fixture in the Mets’ rotation. He not only made his first All-Star game appearance, but was beginning to show the world that he was quickly rising as one of the sport’s best starting pitchers.

Unfortunately for Harvey, his breakout season was followed by a major injury.

Due to Tommy John surgery, Harvey was forced to miss the entire 2014 season. Fortunately for the Mets, Harvey was back for the 2015 season, a year in which the organization made a deep run into the postseason.

Following the injury, Harvey was able to get back on track, posting a 13-8 record with a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts, as he helped lead the Mets to win the National League Pennant.

The defining moment of Harvey’s 2015 season came on the sport’s biggest stage, in Game 5 of the World Series. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Mets needed a win to keep their season alive. Manager Terry Collins turned to his ace in hopes that they could force the series back to Queens.

Coming into the postseason, there was speculation as to how much Harvey would be available during the postseason. Given his recent Tommy John surgery, it remained to be seen just how the Mets would utilize Harvey down the stretch.

On that night, Harvey was flat-out dominant through eight innings. He hurled eight shutout innings, as the Mets held a 2-0 lead heading into the final inning. What happened in the dugout between innings will forever be regarded as a defining moment in the series.

Collins found Harvey in the dugout and advised him that his night was over. Harvey was not having it, and argued that he wanted to stay in the game. His manager, having faith in him, decided to let him start the ninth inning, a decision that ended up being very costly.

Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to start the inning. After Cain stole second base, Eric Hosmer drove him in on an RBI double, thus ending Harvey’s night. The momentum shifted, and the Mets were not able to hold on to the lead and eventually lost the game in extra innings.

The World Series loss was brutal for the organization, but Harvey was simply never the same pitcher after that night. From that point on, he became simply ineffective. A constant string of injuries derailed his career, which is unfortunate given that the start to his career was so promising.

Harvey would pitch for the Mets into the 2018 season before being dealt to the Cincinnati Reds. Since then, the right-hander has also spent time with the Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals.

Heading into the 2021 season, Harvey was looking for an opportunity to show that he can still pitch. The Baltimore Orioles signed him to a minor league contract in hopes that he would claim one of their rotation spots.

Harvey would win the job out of spring training, and got off to a good start, winning three of his first four starts. However, a very rough stretch of 11 starts made everyone question just how long the Orioles would continue to use him every fifth day.

Luckily for Harvey and the Orioles, the now 32-year-old has been a lot better as of late. In his most recent stretch of starts, you can even say that we’ve seen glimpses of the Dark Knight that we were introduced to years ago.

Over his last three starts, Harvey has pitched 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings. His streak will be put on the line as he takes the mound this evening in the Bronx against the New York Yankees.

This will be the second time this season that Harvey will return to New York. He pitched at Citi Field on June 9, a start he would definitely like to forget. Harvey pitched only three innings, allowing seven Mets runs to score in a game in which the Orioles were blown out.

Harvey will have a tough task at hand, as he’ll look to capture a series victory for his current ball club. The former Tar Heel will be tasked with slowing down the new-look Yankees offense that is a day removed from scoring 13 runs on 15 hits.

First pitch for tonight’s contest is scheduled for 7:05 PM EST. Will we have a Dark Knight sighting in the Bronx this evening?

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Continue to follow the Keeping It Heel team for all the latest news and updates on Matt Harvey, and the UNC baseball program.