Matt Harvey vs Stephen Strasburg: The Match-Up That Wasn’t
It was a duel against Tommy John surgery survivors, with Harvey making his first appearance in almost 600 days, and Strasburg having undergone it in 2010. Harvey had a dominant spring training, allowing just 3 runs and striking out 21 in 22.2 innings, and tossing four shutout innings in his last exhibition start.
To be truthful, it was hardly a match up at all.
Strasburg struggled with his command all day, walking leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson to lead off the game, and then issuing a free pass to Lucas Duda two batters later.
Harvey was lights out from the beginning, sandwiching a Yunel Escobar walk around strikeouts of Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper in the first. Harvey showed that he had regained his former velocity, hitting 97 mph in the inning. Escobar was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
After a 1-2-3 2nd inning, Strasburg struggled through a 28-pitch, 9-batter 3rd inning, in which the Mets scored 4 times, aided by a key error by Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond. New York touched Strasburg for a pair of runs in the 6th, forcing him from the game. For the day, Strasburg gave up 9 hits, 6 runs (3 of them earned), walked 3, struck out 5, and hit a batter. Much of the contact he gave up was of the line drive variety.
Harvey, meanwhile, got stronger as the game progressed. He was constantly ahead of the hitters, throwing first strikes to 20 of the first 24 he faced. He shut out the Nats before leaving at the end of the 6th inning, giving up 4 hits, a walk, and striking out 9, including 3 K’s of Harper. His command was sharp, and his velocity remained up until his final hitter.
A return to form by Harvey would give New York a powerful top of the rotation in tandem with National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom.