Harvey vs Strasburg Part 3: The Dark Knight Falls
Last night was only the third meeting between Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey. After winning the first two meetings, Harvey looked lost on a cool, New York night. Strasburg dominated the Knight and earned his first win over his rival pitcher. The similarities in age, draft position, expectations, and injuries are making for a competitive, blockbuster matchup each time the two 27-year olds take the mound against one another.
The two were drafted and signed one year apart. In 2009, the Washington Nationals made Stephen Strasburg the #1 overall pick out of San Diego State University. The West Coast native impressed in the minors and made his first major league start in 2010 before Matt Harvey was drafted later that year. In August of that year, Strasburg tore his ulnar collateral ligament (or UCL), sidelining him for the entire 2011 season.
Matt Harvey signed with the New York Mets after being taken 7th overall out of the University of North Carolina in the 2010 draft. The East Coast native’s journey to the big leagues would be a longer process than his division rival’s, but Harvey arrived with similar expectations.
Both Strasburg and Harvey debuted in remarkable fashion, racking up 14 and 11 strikeouts in their respective starts. They would eventually face each other on April 19, 2013. Both pitchers threw well, but it was Harvey’s seven innings of one run baseball to go along with his seven strikeouts that earned him the win over Strasburg’s two earned runs in six innings pitched.
Unfortunately for Harvey, he would suffer the same injury Strasburg had later that year, a torn UCL. Like Strasburg this would force him to miss his next season and a shot of building off of an All-Star season in 2013. The two competitors would not meet again until April 9, 2015.
It was the 2015 debut for both Strasburg and Harvey. Though it was played in Nationals Park, it seemed to mean more to Harvey. It was his first start since Tommy John surgery for the injury suffered in August of 2013. The Dark Knight dominated the afternoon striking out nine over six scoreless innings.
Strasburg did not fare so well. He could not escape the sixth inning after surrendering six runs (three earned) on nine hits. The mediocre outing earned Strasburg the loss, giving Harvey the 2-0 lead in the rivalry.
Last night was different. With a 6-0 record in 2016, Strasburg continued his momentum in the Big Apple. He threw 113 pitches over six innings, striking out 10 Mets hitters and earning the win. For Harvey, it was the worst outing of his career. In only 2.2 innings, he gave up nine runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks.
As Harvey underperforms through the early part of 2016, his counterpart remains undefeated (7-0) and in complete command of four-pitch repertoire. As the two pitchers head in opposite directions for now, this will be a marquee matchup talked about each time the two opponents toe the rubber against one another.