Matt Harvey maintains overpowering velocity and 'feels great'

Matt Harvey delivers a pitch during the first

Matt Harvey delivers a pitch during the first inning of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla. (March 18, 2013) (Credit: AP)

JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Harvey reached back Monday and overpowered the Cardinals' Jon Jay with a fastball. The velocity reading immediately popped up on the scoreboard at Roger Dean Stadium: 100 mph.

Scouts behind home plate, armed with more accurate radar guns, had the pitch at 98 mph. But it's a minor detail in a much more significant point. By flashing his dominant fastball, just as he's done throughout spring training, the Mets righthander made it clear that he's prepared for the grind of the regular season.

Harvey allowed two runs in 51/3 innings in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Cardinals, all while maintaining the zip on his heater. He allowed six hits but walked only one and had six strikeouts, bringing his total to a team-high 24 in 181/3 innings in Grapefruit League play.

"This is the longest I've gone this spring," said Harvey, who departed after throwing 80 pitches. "Even to the last pitch, I was feeling good, so that's definitely a plus. And showing that the offseason workout is paying off. The body feels great. The arm feels great. Pretty much, I'm ready to go."

In five starts, Harvey is 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA. "Obviously, I'm not happy about giving up runs," he said. "But my body felt great, my arm felt great. I felt like I was throwing a lot of good off-speed pitches for strikes and I'm really happy about my curveball."

Harvey, 23, repeatedly has referred to the importance of crossing the 200-inning barrier. He wants to work more efficiently, as he's done a few times in spring training, in hopes of keeping his pitch count down.

Harvey's ability to pitch deeper into games might prove critical to the Mets, who must figure out how to make up for R.A. Dickey's 2332/3 innings last season. With Johan Santana on track to begin the season on the disabled list, the challenge is even more daunting.

Part of the reason that Harvey is considered one of the game's bright young pitchers is his penchant for generating swings and misses. That skill has been on display, even though it can run contrary to the goal of reducing his pitch count.

"Obviously, a strikeout is good here and there," he said. "I'm starting to learn that a ground ball is just as good. Going deep into a game is on my mind."

Though the sample size is small, Harvey has struck out 11.78 batters per nine innings during spring training, trailing only Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg (12.10).

"It's going to be a fine line because he's got that kind of stuff," Terry Collins said of Harvey's efforts to work efficiently. "He's going to strike people out."

Indeed, Harvey used his fastball and curveball to generate punchouts, one of several encouraging signs during his outing.

"He just kept his poise," catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "He had command of all of his pitches."

Harvey committed himself to a rigorous training program during the offseason and it has paid off. With two weeks remaining until he makes his first start of the regular season, he appears close to regular-season form. Nevertheless, he believes there is room for improvement between now and the end of camp.

Said Harvey: "I strive for perfection every time."

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