Harvey takes positive step in start vs. Braves

Mets righty struggles at times in five innings, but earns first win of 2016

Harvey takes positive step in start vs. Braves

ATLANTA -- Following Matt Harvey's bullpen session earlier in the week, he muttered two words.

"I'm back," Mets manager Terry Collins recalled his pitcher saying.

Harvey didn't look like the dominant pitcher who won 13 games last season on Friday night, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. After entering the contest with an 0-3 record and a 5.71 ERA, the right-hander picked up his first victory in the Mets' 6-3 win over the Braves at Turner Field.

"Still a work in progress," Harvey said. "Part of the game obviously felt better and felt like I was releasing the ball the way I should be. Other times it was not that way. Still working.

"There were more positives than negatives out of this game, so like I said last time, it's kind of flush this one, start [again] tomorrow, and I'm thrilled that we got a bunch of runs and I was kind of able to limit the damage there and help us get a win."

Harvey entered Friday's game struggling out of the stretch, having worked with pitching coach Dan Warthen to correct a mechanical issue that had been affecting his performance with men on base. Collins went as far to say that he had never seen Harvey so frustrated in a string of starts.

Even with all the extra work in the bullpen, Harvey still faced his woes with runners on base, especially in the second inning. The right-hander gave up three straight singles to start the frame, and he allowed two runs on four hits in the inning. Harvey was able to rebound in the third with a perfect frame, and he allowed five batters to reach base the rest of the way before his night ended at 101 pitches following the fifth inning.

It was Harvey's shortest outing of the season, but he was able to snap a four-game losing streak that dates back to Oct. 3, 2015. Flaws still existed in Harvey's mechanics during Friday's outing, but the right-hander feels good about his progress overall.

"When you get into a bad habit, it's not going to be an immediate thing," he said. "The majority of the time out of the stretch I did feel better. Like I said, there is still work to be done."

It wasn't last year's Harvey on the bump, but both the starter and Collins believe it's something to build on heading into his next start.

"A lot of balls were up in the zone, and when he right, he's not up there," Collins said. "We won the game, and hopefully that gives him some confidence going into his next start."

Connor Smolensky is a contributor to MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.