By Rich Coutinho
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The Matt Harvey era will begin this Thursday night in Arizona when he starts against the Diamondbacks and Mets fans keep asking me what can be expected of him? All I can say to that is he is still a prospect and as such we should temper our enthusiasm because we must all still remember he is a developing pitcher. That should not curtail the excitement of watching him pitch, but we should not have a knee-jerk reaction to his future based on one appearance or even a handful of appearances between now and the end of the season.
My take on Harvey has never changed: He has a good fastball, an improving change-up and good command of his other pitches while showing a lot of poise for a relatively young pitcher. I think Zach Wheeler possesses better stuff than Harvey but he does have some intangible qualities on the mound including the confidence to throw breaking pitches in fastball counts and vice versa. I also think he has the temperament to be a big league pitcher because I’ve seen him brush off poor performances and not get too overly excited when he has great performances.
The biggest difference I see in Harvey as opposed to when I first saw him two years ago is his mechanics on the mound. His delivery is more compact now and that has given him better control. He also has learned that pitching is about repetition of delivery and his consistent arm angle shot shows that he has discovered that that is the secret to success at the higher levels of organized baseball. I am told he has also done a much better job of setting up hitters in recent months as opposed to just trying the blow a high fastball past every batter that he faces. In spring training, Harvey had some electric sessions and some rather unspectacular moments as well, but I found it interesting that his demeanor never changed and I personally think that that is a quality most young players do not possess.
Still, Harvey is still very much a work in progress and because of that I suspect he will have some electrifying moments as a major leaguer in 2012, but he will also have some rough patches as well. It is very important that Terry Collins keep the messaging simple here: Matt, you are here because we believe the time is right but just be yourself. You will feel overwhelmed at times but it is all part of learning curve. You have a spot in this rotation and will pitch every fifth day win, lose, or draw.
This hard throwing right-hander is a huge part of the Met future and even though the Mets are in dire need of some pitching help, he can not be expected to pull this team through the fire. There will be plenty of time for that down the road but for now, Matt Harvey needs to pitch and learn because he, along with Zach Wheeler, will both be huge cogs in this rotation for years to come. Right now it is about patience for both the Mets front office and the Mets fans when it comes to Matt Harvey.
What will Harvey bring to the table? Be heard in the comments section below…