Cue Mets fans shaking their heads in disgust.
Though it wasn’t classic Matt Harvey at his dominant best, it was certainly a major improvement over the punching bag of a pitcher the Mets had seen the past few years.
In his first outing since he was traded to the Reds on Tuesday, Harvey turned in one of his best outings of the forgettable past three years. He threw four shutout innings against the struggling Dodgers, allowing just one base-runner — a Cody Bellinger triple that right fielder Scott Schebler lost in the lights — and struck out two. Harvey left with a 5-0 lead, after throwing 55 pitches, 32 for strikes. Making his first start in over three weeks, Harvey was on a pitch count.
Harvey’s velocity was up from his time with the Mets. He was mostly in the 93-95 range, but did hit 96 a few times. The 29-year-old right-hander used all four of his pitches well, and mostly stayed out of the middle of the plate, working the corners and changing speeds.
After working a perfect fourth inning, Harvey received a handshake from new manager Jim Riggleman, ending his evening. The scoreless performance, his first start since allowing six runs to the Braves in six innings on April 19, was just his second in nine outings this year. He had a 7.00 ERA with the Mets, split between four starts and four appearances out of the bullpen.
Harvey was traded for catcher Devin Mesoraco on Tuesday, after refusing a minor league assignment. He had undergone two major arm surgeries since being an All-Star in 2013, Tommy John and thoracic outlet syndrome, and had pitched to a 5.93 ERA with a 9-19 record since the start of the 2016 season before Friday night.
In his last outing with the Mets, he was tagged with five earned runs in two innings of relief. But he looked like a different pitcher for the Reds in his new red uniform.
“Fresh start, I guess you can say, is a nice thing, and I’m looking forward to my opportunity,” Harvey told reporters in Los Angeles on Thursday. “It’s obviously my first time moving teams. Everything feels great. I’m excited for the opportunity. … I was working out and kind of got back on a five-day workout schedule.
“At times there were some pretty negative thoughts about where my career was. But I think fighting through that and throwing the ball the way I have been, in bullpens and in between outings — it’s in there. It just needs to come out. I just need to relax and let it happen.”
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