Mets Game 86: Win Over Giants

Mets 4 Giants 3

It wasn’t bad enough that the game began at bedtime — it had to go into extra innings as well.

Mets Game Notes

For the second straight start, Matt Harvey had less than his best stuff. Of course, most mere mortals would be very pleased indeed allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits in 7 innings pitched. But this wasn’t the Matt Harvey we’re used to seeing. He couldn’t spot the fastball, yet had ample velocity. In other words, he was over-throwing. Too amped up auditioning in front of NL All-Star Team Manager Bruce Bochy? Is Harvey starting to feel fatigue, and overcompensating? Was it just a bad night?

It did not please me to see Harvey pushed out for the seventh and to 121 pitches. Believe me, I’m the first one to tell you that pitch counts are for the most part nonsense and pitchers today need to throw more rather than less. But in this particular ballgame, Harvey had long, stressful innings early in the game — the kind that lead to fatigue and possibly injury. I don’t mind seeing a pitcher throw 120 pitches over 8 innings, when he’s thrown right around 15 or so pitches per inning. But when a guy labors through more than one inning — i.e., tossing more than 22-25 — a yellow flag has to go up in the manager’s head. Harvey threw about 50 pitches in the first two frames, then had a couple more in the 20 range. When Hunter Pence led off the 7th with a triple, I’m going out there and removing Harvey. He doesn’t need to prove how tough he is. He doesn’t need to stay in the game to get the win. He doesn’t need to push his body beyond its limits for a fourth-place team whose best shot at success in 2013 is if the Phillies falter enough to let them sneak into third. Starting off the inning of a one-run game with a triple, you know the rest of the inning is going to be high-stress. Matt Harvey is the future of the franchise — get him the heck out of there so he’s healthy enough to win that kind of game for you in 2015, when it might matter.

On the other side, Tim Lincecum is not the freak he used to be, but he still gets a ton of swings and misses — especially when he has the split-finger working, which he did on this particular evening. In one sequence, Lincecum threw three consecutive splits in the same exact spot to Ike Davis, and Davis flailed and missed all three.

Batters from both sides took issue with home plate umpire Adam Hamari’s strike calls. I have to say, I was loving it — he calls the strike zone by the book, he’s consistent, and he’s assertive. Constant crybabies John Buck and Ike Davis whined all night, but the pitches they let go were strikes. There were also a few checked swings called strikes by Hamari — without asking for help — that ticked off hitters. Again, I loved it. If he thought they swung, why should he ask for help? There’s too much of this nonsense that causes umpires to be less focused, less responsible, and slows down the game. If there were more umps like Hamari, maybe we’d have games under three hours again.

This was another of those paint-dry games, though it did have its highlights here and there. It was as though neither team’s offense wanted to win the game — only the pitchers were battling.

I was surprised to see Bochy panic in the 16th and pull George Kontos, who had been pitching well. Or maybe Bochy simply had enough and was trying to find a way to end the game, regardless of who wound up winning.

Imagine Pablo Sandoval doing a cannonball plunge into your pool. He’d wet the entire neighborhood.

Andres Torres still stinks. In case you were wondering.

Did you stay up late enough to see Brandon Crawford‘s sparkling play on a rocket by Marlon Byrd to end the top of the 11th? Wow. Just, wow. I understand why he starts every day despite limited offensive skills. He is a game-changer with the glove. Naturally, he booted the ball in the 16th to let in the winning run. My guess is he was completely exhausted, as was everyone involved in, and watching, this godforsaken contest.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Giants do it again on Tuesday night at 10:15 PM ET. Dillon Gee is scheduled to start against Barry Zito.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dan42 July 9, 2013 at 6:26 am
    Didn’t see it, but I did read that Harvey said a blister on his right index finger has been bothering him his last two starts but he doesn’t consider it an issue.

    More reason for Collins not to ride him hard, unless he’s trying to make sure he doesn’t pitch in the ASG.

  2. James July 9, 2013 at 8:18 am
    totally agree on Harvey. Collins is focused on winning now because if he wins 72 or 73 games or more he can claim moral victory and perhaps keep his job. These extra inning contests are the signs of a mediocre team, like a hockey team with lots of regulation ties.

    but I will say this, about half or more of the mets wins the last three weeks are due to errors and misplays by the opposition, and they are making fewer errors themselves. so Collins has them playing the fundies fairly well


    • azulnaranja July 9, 2013 at 9:55 am
      I have also noticed that the opposition has been tending to make more misplays than the Mets lately. Could it be that they now (mostly) have guys playing in their regular positions (exception being Murphy)? This is something that Joe has harped on. Imagine if they had a really good fielding shortstop and 2nd baseman, along with 4 corners who could actually hit, instead of 1.5.
  3. DaveSchneck July 9, 2013 at 9:01 am
    Thanks for the recap. Although trying to stay up, I slept through it. Something tells me that this team is going to end up exactly where it doesn’t need to be – below .500 but not one of the worst 10 records, like in the mid 70s of wins. If they can make a push to finish over .500, it can have benefit in exciting the fan base into higher projected revenues in 2014, and hopefully a higher payroll budget. It can also help in recruiting FAs, who may see them on the upswing. If they tank and finish in bottom 10, rally bottom 8 if some #1s go unsigned, they benefit from the protected top 10 pick.
  4. Walnutz15 July 9, 2013 at 9:43 am
    I just find it amusing to see the standard that Harvey’s being held to, not only by legions of Met fans —- but by Collins, himself.

    Contrary to the now ever-popular public opinion, Harvey doesn’t HAVE to complete 7 innings a start……..especially when he hasn’t been working with his best stuff throughout the course of a ballgame.

    ……….even less, when there’s a chance to pinch hit for him in the top of the inning he’s being trotted back out for.

    ………even less when you read a stat like this — which is something a pitching coach should have a clue about and “feel” for:

    “Adam Rubin ?@AdamRubinESPN 6m

    Fascinating from ESPN alum Steve Glasser: In the innings this season Harvey begins with his pitch count already at 100, he has a 43.20 ERA.”

    But………I’m not going to sit and wring my hands over the fact that Harvey threw 121 pitches. What bothers me is that they do stuff like this on a 4th place team, in a meaningless June ballgame.

    There’ll be plenty of time to squeeze another inning out of Matt Harvey…….on better and more competitive Met ballclubs.

    Another fugly ballgame from the opposition’s defensive standpoint — which allowed us to take the lead. The Giants make the plays, and we’re looking at another 1-run type output from Harvey’s offense.

    Luckily for us, they had a nuclear inning where it was contagious around the diamond….otherwise, it never gets to extras.

    Memo to Daniel Murphy: Call for the ball when you’re going to go after it and catch it. Not so early that no one does.

    Baseball IQ Department

    • Walnutz15 July 9, 2013 at 9:44 am
      *correction — It be July.*
  5. argonbunnies July 9, 2013 at 10:07 am
    It’s been said repeatedly here that pushing a pitcher past the industry standard (100 pitches these days) is only bad because pitchers aren’t conditioned for it. If each pitcher pushed their conditioning, you’d see some guys max out at 95, other guys at 145.

    How exactly are the Mets supposed to push Harvey’s conditioning and find out what his true pitch count should be? If he’s thrown 107 pitches, and he’s not yet tired enough for his mechanics to decline, you send him back out there, that’s how.

    I’d hate to risk his health, but I’d also hate for him to be a career 200 IP/yr pitcher if he could be more like 250. At age 25 (Harvey’s age next year), Roger Clemens threw 264 innings. If Harvey’s ever going to approach that, it behooves him to get on it ASAP, and I applaud the Mets for beginning that process.

    Roger Clemens’ pitch counts at age 25:
    135, 152, 133, 119, 94, 118, 121, 132, 145, 150, 108, 134, 106, 141, 111, 148, 59, 111, 138, 112, 133, 100, 162, 154, 126, 110, 46, 98, 121, 114, 86, 113, 123, 117, 116
    We can’t all be Greg Maddux. Sometimes you find an ace who gets into a bunch of 25-pitch innings and can pitch on regardless.

    • Walnutz15 July 9, 2013 at 10:44 am
      Normally, I agree with most of your sentiment – Bunnies. but at this stage of the game…..I can’t just chalk it up to being as simple as Collins & Warthen “knowing what’s best for Harvey”…..not what you said, but I’m just saying in general.

      Now, everyone experiences a blister on the mound every now and again.

      Reading this just makes it even more curious to know why it was “disregarded” – especially amidst a performance where he struggled a bit to put guys away.

      Yeah, you want to see him “bear down” — and get a read for his “true pitch count” —– but at the same time, this doesn’t have to be found out right this second…..

      …….and you don’t want to unnecessarily aggravate anything either. Doesn’t matter if it’s “not bothering you” — it can still have an effect on your grip, etc.

      Chances are, they skip his next start……which will be good for Harvey’s finger.

      Maybe someday soon, they’ll skip the rest of his career under Collins & Warthen — which will also very likely be good for him.

      “NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Matt Harvey hasn’t been his dominant self over his past two starts.

      And now it seems that we know why.

      Following the Mets’ marathon victory over the Giants on Monday night, manager Terry Collins informed reporters that the staff ace has been pitching with a blister on his right index finger for much of the past month.

      “Obviously he pitched fine, but that’s not what we have seen through most of the first half,” Collins told the New York Daily News. “He’s had a small blister that we have disregarded because it hasn’t been bothering him. He didn’t throw as much between starts as he normally does and I think you saw the effects of it because his command wasn’t what it normally is.”

      Harvey, who will likely start for the National League in the All-Star Game if he’s healthy enough, earned a no-decision on Monday. He surrendered three runs on six hits in seven frames, walking one and striking out six.

      The All-Star wasn’t in any mood to use the blister as an excuse.

      “It’s no excuse for my poor pitching,” Harvey told the newspaper. “I think if you ask any pitcher they always have some problems with blisters. I’m not going to make an excuse for my poor performances. It’s something to work on between starts and try and get better.”

      The 24-year-old endured the worst start of his season last Wednesday against the D-Backs, giving up five runs on nine hits in six innings. He did, however, strike out nine.

      After serving up a two-run homer to Buster Posey in the first inning on Monday, Harvey settled down and kept the Mets in the game.

      “The last two have been a struggle,” Harvey said, according to ESPN. “I’m obviously not happy. There’s work to be done. The positive part was going seven. Obviously I’m not happy about giving up the runs and stuff like that. I think after three innings it was 70-something pitches. Being able to bounce back and throw seven was probably the only plus of tonight’s start. It was a good win for us. That’s all that matters.”

      Collins said that Harvey might miss his next start on Saturday against the Pirates, though it doesn’t have to do with his finger. The skipper might have Harvey rest so that he can be available for the Midsummer Classic.

      The second-year player is 7-2 on the season with a 2.35 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. He has struck out 147 and walked 28 in 130 innings pitched.”

      • argonbunnies July 9, 2013 at 11:22 am
        Ah. Good point. Well, y’know, the next time he doesn’t have a blister, I hope they continue to stretch him out.

        …not that I’m all that confident this is actually part of some long-term plan. That would be very un-Mets.

        • Joe Janish July 10, 2013 at 12:22 am
          Argon, I agree that pitchers need to be stretched out in games (and in bullpen sessions between starts) in order to build more stamina.

          However, it’s not as simple as looking at the final pitch count for a particular outing — that’s similarly as flawed as measuring a pitcher’s workload by innings (i.e., “the Verducci Effect”).

          Pitch counts are a good start, but, as mentioned in the game recap, you have to see how those pitches were distributed over the innings pitched. Very generally speaking, you want a pitcher to be throwing 15 pitches or less per inning. When it gets into the 20+ area, the yellow flag goes up. Unless every single inning he pitches is 20+, such as was the case with Nolan Ryan in his early years.

          Think about an inning as a “set” and compare it to working out at the gym. Let’s say you’re doing bench presses. You might do, say 8-10 repetitions per set. Imagine you’re on that kind of a program for two months, then all of a sudden you decide to do a 25-rep set. Maybe you get through it, but if you do that a few times in one workout, there’s a good chance your muscles fatigue, other muscles try to compensate, and you injure something.

          It’s a loose comparison, but it’s just to put things into perspective. The up – down – rest – go – stop – up -down – rest – go – stop nature of a baseball game makes every player on the field susceptible to injury, and the pitchers are arguably most vulnerable due to the sporadic, unpredictable workload from one inning to the next.

  6. Anthony July 9, 2013 at 10:24 am
    As soon as Collins sent Harvey out for the 7th, I told my brother that Harvey is going to get buried. 2 pitches later it was tied. Rubin at ESPN actually showed a stat that Harvey has an ERA of over 40.00 when over 100 (or 110?) and starting the inning and I believe it – last night was the first time I’d seen Harvey actually get out of the inning.

    It seemed foolish the way the bullpen has been pitching – send Hawkins out for the 7th, Torres the 8th like the he did and then Parnell could’ve been closing this in the 9th instead of the 16th. Maybe Collins thought Harvey could handle it given the Giants’ weak bats and the fact that Posey wasn’t due up…

  7. crozier July 9, 2013 at 10:50 am
    What, this wasn’t the clean, well-played game you’ve been pining for, Joe? So many scoreless innings!

    Agree with argonbunnies that Harvey should be training to throw more innings and the occasional complete game. But last night was not the night to work on longevity. Collins knew he had a blister (I HOPE), and now there’s talk of him missing a start. So why in blue blazes did he start the seventh?

    Nice piece, Joe. Looking forward to your thoughts on Niese, who’s been cleared to throw. I remain pessimistic on his prospects this year.

  8. Timo July 9, 2013 at 9:02 pm
    Harvey was probably not concentrating because of the release of his nude photos in ESPN magazine “Body issue”. My wife hasn’t put it down since we got it in the mail today.