Stellar pitching matchup of Strasburg, Harvey highlights NL East rivalry game
By Anthony Castrovince
A plus-sized division rivalry and a matchup of two pitchers with plus stuff deserves a plus broadcast, and MLB Plus will have every angle covered, free on MLB.TV, when Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey oppose each other in the finale of a three-game set between the Nationals and Mets tonight at Citi Field at 7:10 ET.
MLB Plus is MLB.com's data-driven online broadcast that uses Statcast™ and other analytical and broadcast elements to deliver an in-depth discussion about both the action on the field and the big picture.
By placing real-time emphasis on the metrics -- such as spin rate, outfield positioning and exit velocity -- that drive the decision-making process in the modern-day Major Leagues, MLB Plus serves as a sophisticated source of insight. The Statcast™ data adds nuance to the logistics of long balls, the broadcast crew picks up on small details that can make big differences in ballgames, and viewers are invited to join in with questions and comments -- using the #MLBPlus hashtag -- that are addressed on air.
Thursday's 7 p.m. ET broadcast will feature:
Mike Petriello, MLB.com stats analyst and host of the Statcast™ Podcast
Will Leitch, Sports on Earth senior writer
Fernando Perez, former Rays outfielder
Jamal Collier, MLB.com's Nationals beat reporter
Anthony DiComo, MLB.com's Mets beat reporter
Daron Sutton, former play-by-play voice of the Angels (radio, 2000-01), Brewers (television, 2002-06) and D-backs (television, 2007-12)
Ashley Chavez, MLB.com social media correspondent
And yes, it will also feature two of the game's elite arms. They'll provide plenty of talking points.
For one, there's Strasburg, making just his second start since signing that industry-rattling seven-year, $175 million extension. Whether Strasburg's surgically repaired elbow can and will hold up well enough to justify such an enormous contractual commitment is something only time can reveal.
But for now, the Statcast™ data tells us that only Noah Syndergaard has thrown more pitches with a perceived velocity (a measurement of how fast the pitch appears to the batter, based on velocity and release point) of 95 mph or more this season than Strasburg has. We also learn that the average exit velocity off Strasburg's changeup is just 84.8 mph and the average launch angle is minus-3.3 degrees - the kind of weak contact that explains why Strasburg's changeup is rated by FanGraphs as the second-most valuable in the game this season.
So Strasburg's arm is certainly holding up well right now, and MLB Plus will break down every element of his outing against the Mets.
Harvey, on the other hand, has been struggling this season, perhaps as a result of all those innings he accrued in 2015, his first year back from Tommy John surgery. His average pitch speed is down nearly two ticks (from 94.4 mph to 92.7) from last year, and the broadcast team will diagnose the mechanical and statistical elements contributing to his disappointing 4.93 ERA through eight starts.
Beyond the starters, other topics of note for this game include the difficulty Bryce Harper (who, for the record, is 0-for-20 with seven strikeouts lifetime against Harvey) is enduring right now in getting pitches to hit, and the declines in exit velocity and walks that have contributed to Curtis Granderson's regression from his 2015 feats.
Then, of course, there are the implications this series holds in what is already shaping up to be a fierce division battle.
Broadcast from both MLB.com Studios and the ballpark, MLB Plus serves as a companion to each MLB Network Showcase game. A list of upcoming MLB Network Showcase game may be found here.
MLB Plus is available via a Web media player and on MLB.TV, as well as the following devices: All iPhones, iPads, Android handsets and tablets, select Amazon devices, Windows 8, Apple TV 4/tvOS and Apple TV 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360, PlayStations 3, 4 and Vita, Fire TV/Android TV, HTML5 (LG, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and TIVO). It is subject to MLB blackout rules.