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Is Matt Harvey Ready?

Posted By JD Sussman On July 13, 2012 @ 9:15 am In Prospects,Starting Pitchers,Uncategorized | 8 Comments

As news of Dillon Gee‘s potentially season ending blood clot spread, Mets fans and fantasy owners began to speculate whether or not the Mets would call up Matt Harvey to assume Gee’s spot in the rotation. A slew of variables will weighted by Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta and company to ultimately determine what’s best for right hander and the club. But, here at RotoGraphs, all we care about is how Matt Harvey can affect your team should the Mets call him up. If Buffalo’s ace does to Queens, be wary. While his long term potential remains high — he projects to be innings eater with swing and miss stuff — he still has a way to go to get there.

For now, let’s discuss his stuff. Harvey has five offerings a four seam fastball that sits between 93 and 95 MPH, a two seam fastball that sits between 88 and 91 MPH, a sharp slider that ranges from 82 to 84 MPH but gets as high as 86, a change-up that also comes in around 86 MPH, and his slowest pitch, a 12-6 curveball that drops in around 78. Unsurprisingly, Harvey works off both his fastballs, slightly favoring his two-seamer early in the count while emphasizing the four seamer later. As a plate appearance progresses, he’ll use the four-seamer when he falls behind to get a strike or he’ll go for the punch-out up in the zone. His biggest weapon when he gets ahead, however, is his slider, which at times flashes plus. The other two pitches he uses sparingly and are far from fully developed.

Due to his four seam fastball and slider, when Harvey gets ahead of minor league hitters, it’s a mismatch. Using the deadly combination Harvey has assumed the International League strikeout lead. Unfortunately for the Mets, the book on 23-year-old hasn’t changed since draft day. While the he has considerable upside because he features two above average pitches and has a work-horse frame, his inconsistent mechanics greatly┬áhurt his command. Moreover, at this point in his career, Harvey frequently falls behind hitters. Luckily, against Triple-A hitters his fastball can get him out of trouble, but it’s unlikely to do so in The Show. It’s got good life and gets on hitters quickly, but expect them to sit on his fastball until he proves he’s capable of beating them with another offering. They’re able to look for a fastball because he lacks the requisite control over his slider to induce major leaguers to swing at it (unless of course, he’s ahead in the count).

If you’re going to take a chance on Harvey, monitor his starts before pitching him in key situations and don’t be overly excited about the prospects of him saving your season. Don’t forget, he won’t be done any favors by the Mets’ defense which ranges from atrocious to appalling depending on the night. At home their inability may be mitigated by Citi Field’s affinity for pitchers in the past, but with the new fences, that might not be much help any more. Without a an off-speed pitch he can throw for strikes, it’s hard to foresee Harvey succeeding initially. Because of to his raw ability, a promotion may be only way for Harvey to be challenged and for his development to continue, but starting Harvey while he learns on the job will likely not be beneficial to your team.

Prospect Video of the Week, Luis Mateo (NYM, RHP)


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