Mets Try To Slow Matt Harvey Hype Machine





NEW YORK—After internal discussions that stretched for weeks, the Mets decided to call up righthander Matt Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo.

He made a stunning big league debut on July 26 against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, striking out 11 batters in 5 1⁄3 shutout innings, allowing six baserunners and allaying concern by the front office.

The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft from North Carolina, Harvey was the logical candidate to fill the void created by a series of injuries to Mets starters. Still, the front office was wary of creating too much pressure for the 23-year-old.

"I think we've tried to temper expectations," general manager Sandy Alderson said shortly after Harvey joined the team on July 23.

Alderson's words rang hollow, though, after Harvey notched the most strikeouts in a big league debut since the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg whiffed 14 Pirates on June 8, 2010.

In 19 starts for Buffalo this season, Harvey went 7-5, 3.68 with 112 strikeouts in 110 innings. He allowed 97 hits, 48 walks and nine homers. The Mets say his changeup has shown progress, while his low- to mid-90s fastball can be excellent, as can his curveball and slider.

But Harvey is not without flaws. He walked nearly four batters per nine innings in Triple-A. That lack of control lessened the effectiveness of his strikeouts because he had to face more batters to accumulate them, so team officials worry about efficiency.

Midway through the season, Bisons manager Wally Backman told Harvey to go after hitters and not allow them to extend at-bats.

"You don't have to waste your 0-2 pitch, as long as you have an out-pitch," he said. "So does that save you 20 pitches? Is that what gets you into the seventh or eighth inning? I don't know—but it might be."

After Harvey arrived at Citi Field, he spoke with both Alderson and manager Terry Collins. Both had the same message: "Don't try to be Superman," Harvey said.

"Part of that (player-development) process is when you finally get to the big leagues to continue working," Collins said. "Hopefully when Matt gets here, he pitches as well as he did in Buffalo—but we know there's going to be some growing pains."

METAMORPHOSES

• The Mets promoted righty Zack Wheeler to Buffalo to fill Harvey's rotation spot. In 17 starts for Double-A Binghamton he went 9-5, 2.99 with 101 strikeouts in 105 innings.

• High Class A St. Lucie second baseman Danny Muno returned to action on July 14 following his 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. He picked up where he left off, going 7-for-24 (.292) with 10 walks in his first nine games.