Mets righty has best start of season, strikes out 7 in 6 innings of 2-run ball
By David Adler
NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey ripped his 102nd -- and last -- pitch of the night past the Reds' Jordan Pacheco at 97 mph for a called third strike, and he walked off the Citi Field mound looking just a little bit more like his old self.
Harvey's seventh strikeout, a season high, capped his best performance of 2016 to date in the Mets' 5-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday. The right-hander threw six innings of two-run ball and picked up his second consecutive win.
"This is the best, I think, he's thrown all year," said manager Terry Collins. "I thought his stuff was better tonight. I thought the ball came out of his hand much better, much cleaner tonight."
Harvey's velocity ticking back up into the upper 90s, even six innings and 100-plus pitches into the game, was a notable improvement.
"That's obviously a big part of these young guys, the velocity," Collins said. "They're all power pitchers. It's nice to see the velocity up."
Harvey, who has been battling mechanical issues and seen his velocity drop compared to a year ago, has been working with pitching coach Dan Warthen for the past several weeks to try to correct his early-season struggles.
"I think it's about staying back and letting my arm out, and Dan and I have been working so hard to figure out what's been going on, and we're moving in the right direction," Harvey said.
He said that, even though he fell back into bad habits at times, Wednesday's outing was an encouraging step forward.
"I was able to stay in my mechanics a little bit better and kind of attack the hitters like I normally would, and want to," Harvey said.
As Harvey continues to work to recapture his dominant form and elite stuff, a key indicator will be when he can fully command his secondary pitches, Collins said.
"That's when I know he's back," Collins said.
The secondary offerings were better, too, especially Harvey's changeup, although not nearly perfect. Harvey still had to work through trouble at times, and he gave up a home run to the first batter of the game, Zack Cozart, on a slider he left over the plate. But he recovered.
"I mean, Harvey's Harvey. He's a competitor on the mound," catcher Kevin Plawecki said. "To kind of bounce back and make some key pitches and pitch the way he did was definitely good to see."
Harvey still isn't where he wants to be. He hasn't pitched into the seventh inning of a game this year, for one, and he isn't missing bats the way he has in the past. But he's trending the right way.
"We all expect great things out of these young guys, because they're so good, so talented," Collins said. "But we've got to have real patience with them also -- that when it comes back, he's gonna be great. And I think he's making strides."
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.