Matthew Edward Harvey
(The Dark Knight)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 225 lb.
- School University of North Carolina
- High School Fitch High School
- Debut July 26, 2012
Harvey's father Edward played for the University of Connecticut in the 1972 College World Series; he would later be Matt's high school coach. Matt played for the USA in the 2006 World Junior Championship as the team won the Silver Medal. As a senior, he was 6-1 with a 0.64 ERA and 112 K in 54 2/3 IP and was named the Gatorade Connecticut player of the year. Aflac and Louisville Slugger named him an All-American. In February 2007, Baseball America rated him the top high school prospect in the country. He set school records in K (315), wins (21), ERA (1.08), RBI (93) and hits (118). His team won the 2007 Connie Mack World Series. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim took him in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft but he opted for college.
As a freshman at the University of North Carolina, Harvey had a 7-2, 2.79 record with 80 K in 67 2/3 innings and a .214 opponent average. Collegiate Baseball named him a freshman All-American. He fell one shy of Daniel Bard's school record for wins but a freshman. He played in the 2008 College World Series. With the Chatham A's that summer, he was 1-1 with a 0.83 in the Cape Cod League with 29 whiffs in 21 2/3 innings. Baseball America rated him the league's #3 prospect.
Harvey fell to a 5.40 ERA as a sophomore but was still 7-2 with a save. He fanned 81 in 75 innings but walked 42 and had the third-worst ERA on the Tar Heels staff. Back with Chatham in 2009, he was far worse than in 2008, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.
Matt made first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference as a junior, the only UNC player picked in 2010. He began the season 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA and 93 K in 90 innings. The New York Mets took him 7th in the 2010 amateur draft; Jameson Taillon, Drew Pomeranz and Barret Loux were the only pitchers to go higher. He was signed by scout Marlin McPhail for a bonus reported to be $2.525 million.
Harvey made his pro debut with the 2011 St. Lucie Mets with a splash, fanning nine in five shutout innings on Opening Day to beat the Palm Beach Cardinals and fellow first-rounder Shelby Miller. He went a combined 13-5 with a 3.32 ERA in 26 starts between St. Lucie and the AA Binghamton Mets that first year, striking out 156 batters in 135 2/3 innings. He was selected to play in the 2011 Futures Game and was a mid-season All-Star in the Florida State League. Baseball America ranked Harvey the # 54 prospect in baseball before the 2012 season, which he started in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons. There, he was 7-5 in 20 starts, with a 3.68 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 110 innings. He was named to the International League's mid-season All-Star team.
Harvey made his major league debut with the Mets on July 26, 2012, facing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. He was simply brilliant, setting a Mets franchise record for a pitcher making his debut by fanning 11 opponents in 5 1/3 innings; the record of 9 had been held jointly by Tom Seaver and Bill Denehy, and it was the most strikeouts in a debut since Stephen Strasburg had K'ed 14 in his first game with the Washington Nationals two years earlier. Not only that, but Harvey gave up no runs on 3 hits, and went 2 for 2 at the plate, hitting a double off Wade Miley in his first career at-bat. Harvey was the first pitcher since 1900 to have at least 10 strikeouts and two hits in his major league debut. He had to leave the game because of pitch count issues, but was credited with his team's 3-1 win. He didn't pitch as well in his next few starts, but his second win was also memorable, as he did not allow a hit until the 5th inning and kept the Cincinnati Reds scoreless until the 7th on August 16th; for good measure, he added a two-run double in the 4th. He left in the 8th, having given up only 1 run on 4 hits in 7 2/3 innings while striking out 8 as the Mets won, 8-4. He finished the season at 3-5, 2.73 in 10 games, with only 42 hits allowed in 59 1/3 innings.
Harvey had a great start to his 2013 season, leading the National League in ERA and wins after his first three starts during which he went 3-0, 0.82. His third start, facing the Minnesota Twins on April 13th, was the best of his career thus far, as he gave up no hits in the first six innings, finally falling when Justin Morneau hit a drive off the right field foul pole at Target Field for a home run with two outs in the 7th. He ended up pitching a career-high 8 innings, giving up only that run on two hits for a 4-2 win. In his next start on April 19th, he was opposed to Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals in what was billed as the "battle of the young aces". He had the upper hand, winning 7-1, as he gave up only a run on four hits in seven innings. He almost suffered his first loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 24th, leaving with a 3-2 deficit after 6 innings, but his teammates rallied to tie the game against closer Brandon League in the bottom of the 9th, and won, 7 - 3, on a walk-off grand slam by Jordany Valdespin an inning later. He finished the month of April with a record of 4-0, with a 1.56 ERA and 46 strikeouts, being named the NL's Pitcher of the Month. He continued to build his growing legend on May 7th, when he was perfect through 6 innings in a game against the Chicago White Sox. He then retired the first two batters he faced in the 7th, when Alex Rios finally lined a single. The game was still scoreless at that point, and Harvey was removed after 9 innings, having given up only that one hit while striking out a career-high 12 opponents. The Mets won the game in the 10th inning, although reliever Bobby Parnell and not Harvey received credit for the victory. He suffered his first defeat of the year on June 13th, but did not demerit; in a great pitching duel with Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, he gave up only one run in 7 innings while striking out 7, but once again, his teammates did not give him any run support - they had scored only 18 runs in his last 10 outings, leaving him with a string of no-decisions. On June 18th, he started the first game of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves that was portrayed as a portent of the Mets' future, what with top prospect Zack Wheeler making his major league debut for the Mets in the nitecap. He got things started off on the right foot, carrying a no-hitter into the 7th inning and striking out 13 in 7 innings to be credited with the 4-3 win; Wheeler followed with an outstanding performance of his own to complete the sweep and Mets fans finally had something to cheer about in what had been a trying season. Clearly the Mets' new ace, he was selected for the 2013 All-Star Game that summer and was given the honor of starting the Mid-Summer Classic at home in Citi Field. He pitched two scoreless innings after getting into trouble early in the 1st. On August 6th he recorded the first shutout and complete game of his career in a 5-0 blanking of the Colorado Rockies. He allowed 4 hits and needed just 109 pitches, as he struck out six while walking none. His fairy tale season ended on a sour note, however. He left his start of August 24th with elbow pain and was immediately placed on the disabled list. Later tests revealed a partially torn tendon, leaving him to contemplate Tommy John surgery, although after meeting with various specialists, he decided not to have surgery but to try a rehabilitation and strengthening program instead. He ended the season with a record of 9-5, 2.27 in 26 starts, having given up a mere 135 hits in 178 1/3 innings, while striking out 191 and walking 31. Only the Mets' offensive ineptitude kept him from having the sparkling won-loss record his pitching deserved.
Harvey changed his mind about surgery after the 2013 season however, and underwent the Tommy John procedure successfully on October 22nd, performed by Dr. James Andrews. The decision meant that he missed the entire 2014 season. He showed up again in spring training in 2015 and seemingly had not lost a step, as he impressed on the mound in his first few outings in spite of all the time missed. The Mets kept the pressure off by not starting him until the third game of the season, on April 9th, but he continued to impress, pitching 6 scoreless inning to earn a 6-3 win over the Nationals. He won his next two starts as well, helping the Mets to an excellent start. On April 25th, he came within one out of pitching a complete game against the New York Yankees, but still got credit for an 8-2 win, his fourth in as many starts. He made it 5 wins in 5 starts with another victory on May 1st, then hit a bump as he was winless for the remainder of the month, including back-to-back scoreless starts in which he ended up with no-decisions in spite of pitching a total of 15 innings. Uncharacteristically, he was roughed up a couple of times when he gave up 7 runs on May 23rd and June 10th, being tagged with a loss both times, but settled back into a groove after the second of these, even if he did not always get much run support to back up his pitching. On July 11th, he provided some of the run support himself as he tagged Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks for his first career homer, a two-run shot that was key to a 4-2 win for his 8th victory of the year. With the Mets holding a comfortable lead atop the NL East heading into September, the team's brass decided to be conservative with him down the stretch, limiting his innings so he could be used in the postseason. Thus, he made a start against the Yankees on September 20th but left after 5 scoreless innings, then his relievers blew the game open by allowing 11 runs over the next three innings for an 11-2 loss, with rookie Hansel Robles leading the parade of arsonists. Sportswriters immediately began to wring their hands in worry that whatever decision the Mets decided to take about how much he would pitch in the postseason, it had a potential downside. In the end, they decided to let him take his regular turn through the playoffs, and in Game 5 of the World Series on November 1st, with the season on the line against the Kansas City Royals, allowed him to pitch into the 9th inning as he held a 2-0 lead. However, he faltered, allowing a run before being replaced by Jeurys Familia, and the Royals tied the score then eventually won the game in extra innings and were crowned World Champions.
He started the 2016 season slowly, then on May 19th was badly roughed up by the Washington Nationals, giving up 9 runs in 2 2/3 innings. He was booed as he left the Citi Field mound, with his ERA now at 5.77 in 9 starts, and questions were raised about whether this was an after-effect of the 216 innings he had logged the previous year, between the regular season and the playoffs. Except for the fact that his fastball was down 2 mph from the previous season, it was not clear that anything was wrong with Harvey - apart from no longer pitching like an ace. He had another tough outing against the Nats on May 24th, giving up 5 runs in as many innings to suffer his National League-leading 7th loss and increasing the sense of crisis. However, manager Terry Collins stated that he still had confidence in Harvey and was not planning on taking him out of the rotation. For his part, Harvey responded to the anxiety about his performance in the best possible way, by throwing seven innings in which he gave up no runs on two hits against the Chicago White Sox on May 30th. His opponent that day, Jose Quintana, also pitched a great game, but a solo homer by Neil Walker made a 1-0 winner of Harvey. Harvey was winless during all of June in spite of pitching a lot better and was sporting a 4-10 record with an ERA of 4.86 in 17 starts when he was finally placed on the disabled list on July 6th with what was described as right shoulder discomfort. It was revealed that the source of his problem was thoracic outlet syndrome. He decided to undergo season-ending surgery involving the removal of a rib in order to correct the problem.
Harvey returned to the fold at the start of the 2017 season, seemingly in full health. In his first outing of the year, on April 6th, he allowed just three hits in 6 2/3 innings - two of them solo homers by Matt Kemp - and defeated the Atlanta Braves, 6-2. On May 7th, however, the Mets announced that he was being suspended for three games without pay for violating team rules after apparently not showing up for the team's game the previous day. Harvey said this was all due to a miscommunication, because he had a migraine that day, had advised the team and claimed he had received permission to stay home. The incident came at a time the team was wracked by injuries and various strange happenings that had created an air of soap opera around its sinking fortunes. Harvey changed his story after a couple of days as he apologized to his teammates and conceded that he had stayed out the night before the game he missed, and had then played a round of golf in the morning, invalidating his story about not being physically fit to come to the ballpark. On June 15th, one day after being unable to hit 90 mph with his fastball in a start against the Chicago Cubs, he was placed on the disabled list yet again with an injury to the scapula muscle of his throwing shoulder. He only came back on September 2nd, when he gave up 7 runs in 2 innings against the Houston Astros. One would think the Mets would have used him carefully the rest of the way, given his medical history and the fact they were nowhere near postseason contention, but no. They decided instead to move his next start forward by a day, to September 6th, to "get him back out there as soon as possible." As journalist Ted Berg put it: "the New York Mets, [...] consistently try to repair fine china by smashing it with a sledgehammer and then wonder why they’re short on formal dinnerware." He finished the season at 5-7, 6.70 in 19 games.
He gave positive signs during spring training in 2018 and was in the Mets' starting rotation at the start of the season. Reporters made a big deal when early in the year, the team completed a turn through the starting rotation with Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz all made a start, as it was the first time since Matz had reached the majors in 2015 that all five had been healthy at the same time. The team got off to an excellent start, which somewhat obscured the fact that Harvey was now the weak link in the chain. In his first four starts, he had two losses and an ERA of 6.00, in spite of a very solid K/W ratio of 17/4 in 21 innings, prompting questions about what should now be done with him. On April 21st, the Mets announced he was going to move to the bullpen, with off-season free agent signee Jason Vargas set to come off the disabled list to make his season's debut. He did not hide his dissatisfaction with the turn of events, stating that he was a starter and not a reliever, and then refusing to speak to reporters after his first outing in the role. He continued to attract headlines in the next few days when he was caught partying in Los Angeles, CA on April 26th, on what was supposed to be a travel day to allow the team to reach San Diego, CA for a series starting the next day. The Mets' top brass had difficulty hiding their exasperation when asked by reporters about the incident. Indeed, a little over a week later, on May 4th, he was designated for assignment after he refused a demotion to the minor leagues following a string of unconvincing relief outings. Apparently, former Mets great and current broadcaster Keith Hernandez, who had also seen his career almost derailed by off-field problems, had tried to make an intervention with Harvey through his agent, Scott Boras, but it had been unsuccessful. On May 8th, Harvey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in return for C Devin Mesoraco. His first start for his new team came on May 11th, against the Los Angeles Dodgers and he pitched four innings of one-hit ball, the lone hit being a high fly ball by Cody Bellinger that RF Scott Schebler lost in the lights and fell for a triple. He touched 96 mph on the radar gun, then gave way to a pinch-hitter as Cincinnati won, 6-2. He recorded his first win for his new team on May 22nd, 7-2 over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He continued to pitch well and there was a lot of speculation that the Reds would trade him before the end of the season. A deal was almost worked out which would have sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers in late August as the two teams could not agree on what an appropriate return for the veteran would be. Meanwhile, the Reds were happy to keep him on board as they considered that he had been a positive influence on their young pitching staff. He went 7-7, 4.50 in 24 starts for the Reds, finishing the year with a combined record of 7-9, 4.94.
Having reestablished his value to some extent, Harvey was sought after when he became a free agent following the 2018 season. On December 18th, it was reported that he had agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels for 2019, worth $11 million with another potential $3 million in incentives.
- NL All-Star (2013)
- 2015 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award
- Ted Berg: "What's wrong with Matt Harvey?", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, May 20, 2016. 
- Ted Berg: "The Mets will start Matt Harvey on short rest, as if they've learned nothing", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, September 4, 2017. 
- Scott Boeck: "Keith Hernandez tried to save Matt Harvey's career with the Mets", USA Today Sports, May 16, 2018. 
- Erik Brady: "The Dark Knight returns: Matt Harvey dominant in return", USA Today Sports, April 9, 2015. 
- Anthony DiComo: "Harvey determined to regain dominant form: Mets righty feeling healthy and throwing hard, but knows only time will tell", mlb.com, February 14, 2017. 
- Anthony DiComo: "Harvey looks back, regrets 'mistakes' in NY: Hurler returns to Citi Field for 1st time since trade to Reds", mlb.com, August 6, 2018. 
- Matt Ehalt: "Mets starter Matt Harvey looking to rebound after two rough seasons", USA Today Sports, February 15, 2018. 
- Matt Ehalt: "Mets' Matt Harvey finds positive in loss to Yankees, seems headed in right direction", USA Today Sports, March 10, 2018. 
- Matt Ehalt: "Mets have to decide whether to keep Harvey in rotation or send him to bullpen, AAA or DL", USA Today Sports, April 20, 2018. 
- Matt Ehalt: "Mets' Matt Harvey era officially ends with pitcher lacking both allies and results", USA Today Sports, May 5, 2018. 
- John Fay: "Cincinnati Reds take a gamble with Matt Harvey; will they be rewarded?", USA Today Sports, May 9, 2018. 
- Gabe Lacques: "Matt Harvey era ends with Mets: The Dark Knight will be designated for assignment", USA Today Sports, May 4, 2018. 
- Mike Lupica: "Return of the Mets' 'Dark Knight': Harvey showing signs of promising comeback season", mlb.com, April 4, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "If Mets are World Series-serious, Matt Harvey must have no playoff limits", USA Today Sports, September 21, 2015.