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Why Matt Harvey Is the Best MLB Player in New York Right Now

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIMay 29, 2013

Matt Harvey was at it again on Tuesday night against the New York Yankees in the Subway Series, throwing another gem as the New York Mets beat the Yankees, 2-1, at Citi Field.

Harvey was as dominant as he's been all season, and the 24-year-old ace proved that he's the best pitcher in New York. Scratch that...he proved that he's the best player in New York.

Harvey ran through the Yankees with ease, keeping a low pitch count for much of the game.

Matt Harvey... 9 pitches in the first inning: 1-2-3. Twelve pitches in the second inning, 1-2-3, including a 98 mph pitch to finish Adams.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 29, 2013

The young righty went eight strong innings, surrendering just one run on six hits and striking out 10. He didn't pick up the win, but Harvey remains 5-0 on the year.

This gem helps his numbers, but not as much as you'd think. How many other pitchers could put on that kind of performance and only see their ERA drop 0.08?

Matt Harvey's ERA dropped tonight, from 1.93 to 1.85. No matter: he's on the hook for his first loss if the Yanks can hang on.

— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) May 29, 2013

After Tuesday night, Harvey has a 1.85 ERA (fourth in the NL) and leads the NL in WHIP at 0.82. He has been as good as anyone can be, and he is second in the NL in WAR at 2.8, trailing only Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw.

A big reason why Harvey has been so dominant is because of his combination of a high-90s fastball and a devastating slider that has become one of the best putout pitches in baseball.

The seventh-overall pick in the 2010 draft, his slider is a big reason why he has the second-best whiff rate in the NL, as Mike Axisa points out at CBSSports.com:

When you watch Harvey pitch, it's easy to see why he generates so many swings and misses. His fastball has averaged 94.8 mph this year and has run as high as 98.9 mph, according to PitchFX. He also throws three offspeed pitches at least 10 percent of the time, including a wipeout, upper-80s slider that he'll use roughly once out of every five pitches. When opponents have taken a swing at Harvey's slider this season, they've missed 30.7 percent of the time, according to the data at Brooks Baseball. It's an electric pitch and big reason why he has been so successful

His slider is a big reason why opponents have so little success against him when they get behind in the count. Harvey can simply shut them down with this devastating pitch.

Matt Harvey in two-strike counts (0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2): Opposing hitters are 15-140 (.107); two EBH—1 2B, 1 HR; and 74 strikeouts.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 28, 2013

Also, note that batters have only managed two extra-base hits off of Harvey in two-strike counts. He is one of the most difficult pitchers to take for a ride, as evidenced by the fact that all six Yankee hits on Tuesday were singles.

The numbers don't lie—Matt Harvey is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game today. With 84 punchouts in 78.0 innings pitched, he is one behind A.J. Burnett for the most in the NL and ranks third in the entire MLB.

The Mets have come to rely on their young stud, as ESPN's Buster Olney shows:

The Mets are 7-2 on the days when Matt Harvey pitches, 10-24 on the days he doesn’t pitch. He works against the Reds today.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 22, 2013

It's rare to see such a young player be the King of New York, but the title was up for grabs.

The Mets were in desperate need of a superstar in the rotation, with Johan Santana out for the season and R.A. Dickey with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Harvey delivered. Considering that David Wright doesn't have the drawing power he used to and that Harvey has pitched during 40 percent of the team's wins, it's pretty obvious that Harvey is the team's biggest star.

But what about the rest of New York?

The Yankees haven't had their usual superstars in the lineup, as Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson are all currently on the DL. While guys like Lyle Overbay have helped the team to a 30-20 record, there have only been two superstars on the team—Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano.

Rivera was having one of the best seasons of his career before allowing two runs in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday, inflating his ERA and giving him his first blown save and loss on the year.

In fact, Harvey now has a lower ERA, a lower WHIP and a higher K/9 ratio than Rivera.

Cano, on the other hand, appears to be the only other challenger for King of New York, but his .289 batting average, 13 home runs and 34 RBI are far from MVP-caliber numbers. Cano won't be taking home any hardware with Miguel Cabrera around, whereas there is a case to be made for Harvey to win the NL Cy Young Award over Kershaw.

With so many stars unable to stay on the field, there hasn't been much competition for Harvey, and he can officially start his reign as King of New York.

In fact, he is the only reason the Yankees should be jealous of the Mets, and it's just hard not to love the kid.

anyway, if you're a baseball fan and don't think @mattharvey33 is a stud, then you're actually not a baseball fan

Becky (@bhabs37) May 29, 2013

 

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