Matt Harvey strikes out 10, allows one run in loss
At Triple-A Buffalo this season, Backman watched Harvey fight off his boredom against minor-league hitters, before he eventually made his ascent to the big leagues. Since joining the Mets, Harvey has proven why the franchise harbors such high hopes for his future.
However, even Backman had to step back last night after what he witnessed in the Mets' 2-0 loss to the Nationals. With a fastball that touched 98 mph on the radar gun, and a changeup that made lefthanders look helpless, Harvey struck out 10 hitters in five-plus innings.
From the dugout, Backman had to make an admission to Mets manager Terry Collins.
"And Wally says 'I never saw that, I never saw that stuff,' " Collins said.
Indeed, in Harvey, the Mets know what they have.
With the season winding down, and a playoff spot out of reach, the Mets clubhouse is crowded with young players who harbor hopes of carving out a spot for themselves in the future. But in Harvey's case, that work has already been done.
Even before he took the mound for his penultimate start of the season, Collins only reiterated what has become a foregone conclusion: Harvey will begin the 2013 season in the Mets rotation.
Said Collins: "I've got a tough time thinking that there's a way he's not going to be in it."
With that in mind, Collins said before the game that Harvey's final starts would be devoted simply toward working on his craft. Against the Nationals, the pitcher made clear the areas in which he must improve.
"I felt good early but I think I pressed too much," Harvey said.
Harvey racked up strikeouts, but he also watched his pitch-count soar, a fact he lamented after the game. Harvey departed in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. Lefty Robert Carson bailed Harvey out of the jam, stranding all three inherited runners.
But despite the rough ending, Harvey flashed signs of dominance. He pitches once more -- Tuesday at home against the Phillies -- before he's shut down for the season.
Said Collins: "We've got something special."
Notes & quotes: The Mets' 2013 preliminary schedule calls for four games against the Yankees next season instead of six. Meanwhile, every team in the NL East will play an AL East foe, just as the Mets have done since the advent of interleague play. "My whole thing was everybody playing the same teams," Collins said. "If you're going to play the American League East, everybody should play the American League East. We play the Yankees more than anybody. That can be difficult. That was my whole thing and I think it's starting to even out to be similar to that." . . . Daniel Murphy expects to play tomorrow night against the Brewers after missing last night's game with lower back stiffness. Collins scratched Murphy in favor of Ronny Cedeño, who later left the game with right hamstring tightness . . . Lucas Duda made his first start at first base this season, though Collins said it may become a more regular occurrence.