LOS ANGELES — Matt Harvey fired a second-inning fastball that felt noticeably good popping out of his hand — higher than any pitch had felt in a very long time. He peeked on the right-field scoreboard to test whether or not the radar gun validated his inclination.
It learn 96 mph.
“I hadn’t seen that in a while,” Harvey mentioned. “It was good to know it’s still in there.”
Harvey breezed by means of 4 scoreless innings in his Cincinnati Reds debut on Friday evening, giving up just one hit — on a fly ball that ought to have been caught — and hanging out two batters in a matchup towards the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers, setting the tone in an eventual 6-2 victory at Dodger Stadium.
Harvey, on a restricted pitch depend for what represented his first begin in additional than three weeks, required solely 55 pitches to file 12 outs. Thirty-two of them had been strikes and two of them reached a season-high velocity of 95.eight mph.
“It’s a good first start,” Harvey mentioned, his 2018 ERA dropping from 7.00 to six.10. “Obviously it’s only four innings; there’s a lot of work and a lot of season left. But I think to go out there and be successful and get outs, help a team win, is very important.”
Harvey, acquired from the New York Mets solely three days earlier, took the mound after a 34-pitch, 21-minute high of the primary inning. The 29-year-old right-hander felt what he referred to as “first-time jitters,” and it confirmed when his first three fastballs veered off the plate. However Harvey got here again to retire Chase Utley on a flyout, then made fast work of the following three hitters.
With one out within the second, Cody Bellinger hit a towering fly ball that resulted in a triple after proper fielder Scott Schebler overlooked it. Harvey brushed it apart, struck out Chris Taylor on a excessive slider, then acquired Max Muncy to line out to heart subject.
The subsequent six batters had been retired briefly order.
“He threw the ball well,” mentioned Reds interim supervisor Jim Riggleman, who will begin Harvey once more on the highway towards the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. “All of his pitches were working.”
Harvey, as soon as hailed as “The Dark Knight,” was arguably the sport’s best pitcher for a short second in time. He began the All-Star Sport and completed fourth in Nationwide League Cy Younger Award voting throughout his first full main league season in 2013. Tommy John surgical procedure adopted shortly thereafter, however Harvey was as soon as once more dominant all through 2015, a World Collection-bound season that noticed him rack up considerably extra innings than he and his agent, Scott Boras, anticipated.
Harvey hasn’t been the identical since.
His 2016 season started with diminished velocity and ended with surgical procedure to restore thoracic outlet syndrome, a process that has confirmed exceedingly troublesome for pitchers from which to get well. His 2017 season included a stress fracture in his shoulder and was bookended by wrestle. In 2018, he was demoted to the bullpen, then designated for task after refusing a visit to the minor leagues, then dealt to the last-place Reds in alternate for a catcher, Devin Mesoraco, and a few money.
Harvey posted a 2.53 ERA in 427 innings from 2012 to 2015 however collected a 5.93 ERA in 212 1/three innings with the Mets over these previous three years, his velocity dropping from 97 mph to about 93. He gave up 21 runs, 33 hits and 9 walks in his first 27 innings of 2018, however he spoke optimistically upon assembly his new Reds teammates on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s in there,” Harvey mentioned then. “It just needs to come out. I just need to relax and let it happen.”
Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart did not have a lot time to arrange for Harvey’s debut, however he made essentially the most of it. He got here in at about 1 p.m. PT, watched video of Harvey’s begins from 2013 and 2015, appeared intently at his utilization patterns, then cross-referenced it with what he did over these previous three seasons.
“It helped out,” Barnhart mentioned. “I felt we were able to use a good four-pitch mix tonight. That was something that I had seen in the video that lacked a little bit [in recent years], whether it was based on circumstance or something that he was trying to do. It didn’t sound like he was aiming to do that; it just seemed like it was circumstantial.”
Harvey threw 31 fastballs Friday. However Riggleman was impressed with the sharpness of his slider and changeup, and Harvey additionally flipped a handful of curveballs in for good measure. He generated solely two swinging strikes and recorded 9 of his outs by means of the air, a pattern that won’t play favorably on the Reds’ unforgiving residence stadium.
However Harvey skilled actual, reliable success Friday evening, and that in itself is efficacious.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Riggleman mentioned. “I was just really happy for him.”
“It’s a competitive game, so no matter what, you’re always going to try to get better and better each time,” Harvey mentioned when requested if 4 innings was sufficient to validate his perception that he may proceed to be an efficient beginning pitcher. “Tonight was a good first start, and we just have to keep working from here.”