Matt Harvey didn’t throw a no-hitter against the Braves on Tuesday, but he did almost do that, not allowing a hit until the bottom of the seventh. It’s not that Harvey relied entirely on the strikeout — of the batters he faced, 13 didn’t whiff. But then, of the batters he faced, 13 did whiff, and Harvey’s season rate is verging on 30%. Matt Harvey was already good a year ago. Since then he’s only induced more grounders and cut his walk rate in half. Harvey, at this point, is in the argument for being the most valuable young pitcher in all of baseball.
Against the Braves, Harvey registered 15 swinging strikes on secondary stuff, which is outstanding. Yet he also picked up eight whiffs on his heater, which is kind of par for the Harvey course. No other starter’s fastball has led to so many swinging strikes, as Harvey can just be completely overwhelming. Instead of just using his fastball as a foundation, Harvey uses it also as a weapon, which is a rare gift. To have a swing-and-miss fastball is to have one hell of an advantage, and though fastballs tend to get slower over time, for now, at least, Harvey’s elite.