Last season was the worst of Matt Harvey’s career. It started with him getting clowned on for not peeing enough, transitioned to him getting booed off the mound by the home fans, and ended with him being shutdown with thoracic outlet syndrome. During all of this, he mostly looked and carried himself like a mopey Fordham 3L who was just going through the motions before getting a job at his dad’s firm.
Harvey made his first start of the season last night, and he looked ... pretty damn good. His stuff looked good—he was consistently throwing his fastball in the mid-90s during 6.2 solid innings—but he also looked good physically.
I don’t know, maybe it was just the lack of beard throwing off my perception, but Harvey looked noticeably svelte on the mound last night. The broadcasters even mentioned it, speculating that all that time spent recovering from Tommy John surgery had led to him bulking up a bit too much coming into last season. Either way, the Matt Harvey that pitched last night looked a lot more like the dynamic version we saw in 2012 and 2013 than like the one who was out there last year.
Maybe it’s dumb to even be at all surprised that Harvey pitched well. For as much attention as last year’s struggles garnered, it’s worth remembering that he has been an objectively dominant starter for almost his entire career. Even with last year’s disaster campaign included, he still owns a 2.94 career ERA and a strikeout rate of a batter per inning. One quality start against the Braves doesn’t mean a Cy Young charge is in the cards, but Harvey’s still just 28 and there’s a very good chance that anyone who wrote him off last year will end up looking very dumb by this season’s end. At they very least, he looks ready to put an end to all those Matt Heavy jokes.