Maybe, all Matt Harvey needed was a change of scenery.
The former Mets fireballer, known as the Dark Knight for the first few years of his career, eventually wore out his welcome in New York.
Though his off-the-field antics — particularly his partying — had something to do with that, the bigger issue was his inability to get batters out.
Harvey was once considered the future face of the Mets, and pitched to a sterling 2.56 earned run average through the 2015 season. But he had struggled mightily since then, with ERAs of 4.86, 6.70 and 7.00 in his next three years with the Mets, respectively. His velocity was down, and he was frequently injured. In short, he was a shell of the pitcher he used to be.
When the Mets decided to cut ties with the 29-year-old, trading him to the Cincinnati Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco, it was probably because they felt they couldn’t get anything more out of him.
The Reds likely weren’t too sure what they were getting, but still, they opted to give Harvey the start Friday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
And facing the defending National League champions, Harvey was surprisingly dominant.
Things started off well, as Harvey got the Dodgers’ first batter of the game, Chase Utley, to fly out.
From there, they only got better. Harvey retired the side in order in the first inning, and allowed just one hit — a triple that Reds outfielder Scott Schebler lost in the lights — in the second.
Harvey would go on to get through the third and fourth innings without allowing any more baserunners. He was taken out of the game after four innings and 55 pitches, having given up just the one hit, while striking out two batters. The Reds, meanwhile, won the game 6-2.
One of the most encouraging aspects of Harvey’s start had to do with his velocity. For most of his four innings, his fastball was in the 93-95 mph range, and he even hit 96 in the second.
“I hadn’t seen that in a while. It was good to know it’s still in there,” Harvey after the game, according to the New York Post. “I let one go and I took a peek just to see where I was at. It was nice.”
In general, Harvey seemed to be happy with his performance, though he realized he can still get better.
“It’s a good first start,” he said, ESPN reported. “Obviously it’s only four innings; there’s a lot of work and a lot of season left. But I think to go out there and be successful and get outs, help a team win, is very important.”
Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect from Harvey, but he was happy with what he saw.
“He threw the ball well,” Riggleman said. “All of his pitches were working.”
Harvey’s next start is slated for Wednesday against the Giants at San Francisco.
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