Tigers 3 Mets 0
The Mets now know what it’s like to look into the mouth of a Tiger.
Mets Game Notes
It was pitched (pardon the pun) as a rematch of the All-Star Game starters. And like in the July exhibition, Matt Harvey started out shaky. That’s pretty much where the similarity ended.
Harvey was roughed up early and often through his six-inning stint. Via minor miracle, he managed to allow only two runs on 13 Tigers hits. Harvey fooled no one, and even the outs and foul balls were hard-hit. Detroit didn’t hit many bombs — rather, they singled him to death, spraying the field with bullets that escaped the reach of the Mets’ deep-set short-fielders. Further, the Tigers ran more like elephants, moving station to station; on the few occasions one attempted to take an extra base, he was put out by a large margin.
Harvey’s velocity was where it needed to be — 96 to 98 MPH — but his command of it wasn’t quite what we saw in the first half. I liked his change-up — it often had a good “dead fish” drop — but he used it only about a dozen times and when it wasn’t dropping, it was hanging a little too high and getting too much middle. Harvey simply looks fatigued to me, which makes sense since he’s about a game beyond the most innings he’s ever pitched in a season. I have to wonder, also, if his football-like mentality of getting extremely keyed-up once every five days is wearing him down mentally. When college and NFL players get fired up, it’s once every seven days, and it’s no more than about 20 times.
You may wonder how Harvey can be tired when he’s still throwing 97-98 MPH. He might be doing something mechanically to keep the velocity up, but more likely, the fatigue is affecting his tendons and joints — i.e., fingers and elbow. Maintaining velocity but losing command is almost always a red flag for an elbow injury, because weakness in the UCL means weakness of the fingers. Muscles tend to recover and get stronger with repetitive use, and while tendons and ligaments can do the same, over the long-term they tend to lose their elasticity and are more difficult to “push.” The result is decreased ability to hold and manipulate the baseball — which is key to command. So while a tired body can still propel a baseball using large muscles such as the thighs and core by maintaining (or tweaking) timing and using the mind to keep “pushing,” there aren’t many (if any?) adjustments available for getting the smaller muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the fingers, hand, and forearm to overcome fatigue. The best thing a pitcher can do to prevent fatigue in fingers, hand, and forearm is to maintain a hand-exercise program throughout the season — one of the best is simply diving the hand into a bucket of rice, a trick originally made famous by Steve Carlton. I have no idea if Harvey plunges his hand into rice every day, or if he has any other kind of hand exercise program, but he — and all pitchers — should.
How did the Tigers score only two runs despite hammering Mets pitching for fifteen hits and not grounding into a single double play? First, the station-to-station baserunning. Second, only two extra-base hits. Third, no walks. Fourth, a few breaks for the Mets — including a rare outfield assist by Eric Young, Jr. to cut down a potential run, and a botched umpire call on a fielder’s choice to end the seventh. For those who can’t wait for replay to be installed based on Freddie Freeman play last week, an overturn of that seventh-inning snafu might have resulted in a few more Tigers runs — not that it mattered, since the Mets didn’t score anyway.
So, this is what it’s like to face an elite baseball team with an ace on the mound — against whom, the Mets squeezed 3 hits and 4 walks, and were 0-for-3 with RISP. Of all people, it was Ike Davis who handled Max Scherzer — Davis rapped a single and a double against the now-19-game-winner.
Mets Game Notes
About the Author
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.