Right now, Matt Harvey is the one Fourth of July firework that didn’t go off. The dud in the box.
While Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom and Bartolo Colon and Steven Matz light up the sky above Citi Field, Harvey fizzles instead of sizzles.
For the Dark Knight’s psyche, it doesn’t matter much that the Mets saved him from taking his 11th loss of the season by rallying from his 6-0 deficit to beat the Marlins, 8-6, on Yoenis Cespedes’ two-out, two-run double in the eighth.
It doesn’t matter much for Harvey that the Mets saved him from dropping to 29-29 in his career.
Harvey’s career mark already was almost unthinkable when you consider how good he was, how big his persona was, how much of a star he was and always wanted to be.
Now he’s the Mets’ fifth starter. If Zack Wheeler ever makes it back, Harvey could become No. 6.
The good vibes were on display in Flushing after the four-game sweep of the Cubs. DeGrom, Colon and Syndergaard were the winning pitchers in the final three games and Matz threw 5 1⁄3 gutty innings in the opener after the Mets had gotten swept by the Nationals.
Until the Mets rallied to get Harvey off the hook, those vibes were replaced by boos from the crowd of 30,424 as Harvey walked off the mound after allowing six runs (one unearned because of his throwing error) in 3 2⁄3 innings.
“Command wasn’t good,” manager Terry Collins said. “Lot of balls in the middle of the plate. Couldn’t make his pitch. Didn’t have the late life that we normally see. I told [pitching coach Dan Warthen] when he came out, ‘It’s back to the drawing board.’ . . . I would have to say there’s some concern.”
Every time Harvey and the Mets think he has it figured out — such as in his last rain-shortened outing in Washington — he takes a step back. He had some bad luck Monday, but when you give up 11 hits while recording the same number of outs, it’s hard to find the positives.
Here’s one: The Mets’ fortunes this season won’t rise and fall with the Dark Knight. Monday certainly proved that as this game bunch won by scoring in five consecutive innings after Harvey’s departure.
It’s like Robin capturing the Joker by himself without any help from Batman. After a while, you begin to think Gotham can get along just fine without the Caped Crusader.
Harvey’s troubles started in the second inning, when the Marlins scored three times with the help of a correctly reversed call at second base. The Marlins scored twice after multiple camera angles showed Chris Johnson had successfully avoided Asdrubal Cabrera’s tag for what would have been the final out of the inning.
Then, in the fourth, Harvey allowed a line-drive single that somehow avoided the glove of a diving Wilmer Flores at third base.
“I had it,” Flores said. “I just missed it.”
That hit by J.T. Realmuto loaded the bases. Martin Prado followed with a potential inning-ending 1-2-3 double-play grounder, but Harvey threw the ball to the backstop as a run scored. Christian Yelich sent the next pitch to center for a two-run single to give the Marlins a 6-0 lead and end Harvey’s day with a season ERA of 4.86.
“Whether it was the slider or curveball or changeup or fastball, everything was just out of whack,” Harvey said. “Catching too much of the plate.”
What can the Mets do? Not much except keep sending him out there. Keep hoping he goes from dud back to stud.
But it’s not as if the show’s over if he doesn’t. The Mets again proved that the oohs and aahs can keep right on coming without him.