CHICAGO - Exactly two years ago Thursday, Matt Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Nearly every event in his baseball career since then has been shaped by that day, impacting everything from his arduous rehab to the public tug-of-war between his agent and his team about how best to protect his surgically repaired right elbow.
But Harvey wanted no part of coming full circle.
National League Championship Series Game 5 was scheduled for Thursday night, and the Mets would have sent him to the mound at the two-year mark of his Oct. 22, 2013, surgery.
Instead, he joined his teammates on Wednesday night, celebrating an 8-3 victory over the Cubs that completed a four-game NLCS sweep. His next start will come in the World Series, only the fifth in franchise history and the first in 15 years.
"That would have been pretty cool," said Harvey, who laughed at the coincidence that would have had him pitching on the anniversary. "But I'm glad I'm not pitching . . . I think getting done in four is much better than pitching out here again. Obviously, we're all excited for where we're going. Couldn't be happier right now."
Harvey, 26, has logged 202 innings in his first season back from surgery. Though he said he hasn't been told exactly when he'll pitch, he will be part of a rotation tasked with staring down either the Blue Jays or Royals.
"It made the wait all that much more worth it," said Harvey, who missed all of 2014 recovering from the injury. "It's amazing, it's amazing. I've been speechless about many different parts of this, and that's definitely one of them. I'm filled with excitement. I can't wait to get started."
Harvey's dominance in Game 1 of the NLCS set the tone for a Mets pitching staff that held the Cubs to as many hits (21) in the series as the Mets scored runs. It came after the Cubs won the season series, 7-0.
"We stayed focused and we knew what kind of team we were up against, obviously going 0-7 against these guys during the regular season," Harvey said. "We knew we had a completely different team and we were going to come at them with a lot of different parts. For us, we had a lot of confidence coming in. Once we got those first two wins at home, we kept the pedal down and kept pushing."
Harvey said he's been able to block out the constant coverage of his exploits, which has generated controversy.
"I think my mother reads more than anybody," he said. "She's not the happiest woman in the world. But for me, I knew I had to go out there and do my job and pitch. That's all I was focused on."
From spring training, Harvey insisted he thought the Mets would be good. But now that they have won the pennant, he set his sights higher.
"We're excited but we're not finished," Harvey said. "We're out for a mission."