Harvey on Mets passing him over for Opening Day: “It’s something that I expected.”
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — As far back as September, Matt Harvey had penciled Opening Day onto his calendar, going as far as to proclaim that he was chalking the Nationals up “as a ‘W’” on April 6.
The realities of rehabilitation and the politics of Mets camp have slowed him only slightly. A more subdued Harvey tipped his cap on Tuesday to Bartolo Colon, who will receive the Opening Day start in his stead, and to Jacob deGrom, who will start the home opener. Harvey will pitch the third game of the season on April 9, as well as the Mets’ second home game on April 14.
“It’s something that I expected,” Harvey said. “I was happy to be healthy going into Spring Training, so … I’m happy that I get to start in Washington. I’m excited to throw there. We’re excited to match up with them.”
As for the ‘W’ he had penciled in on Opening Day?
“Bartolo’s got that covered,” Harvey said.
The Mets’ justification in avoiding Harvey for both openers was that they wanted to honor pitchers who actually contributed last year. While Harvey missed the entire season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Colon led the staff in innings and wins, and deGrom won the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Theoretically, lining Harvey up for the second home game instead of the home opener also allows the Mets to draw two big crowds in a row to Citi Field.
“Obviously with Bartolo throwing 200 innings, getting 15 wins is well-deserved of Opening Day,” Harvey said. “And all that Jacob did last year, he obviously deserves Opening Day at home. I’m happy to be throwing in the first series and obviously extremely happy about throwing at home.”
Not that Harvey’s debut will lack juice. The Mets’ third game will pit him opposite Stephen Strasburg, one of the few pitchers in baseball who truly understands the hype surrounding Harvey. Back in April 2013, Harvey outdueled Strasburg in a game at Citi Field, prompting thousands of fans to chant “Harvey’s better!” during one of the more memorable games of his breakout season.
This time, the atmosphere should be just as electrically charged.
“That’s an important series for us, obviously opening up the season,” Harvey said. “Regardless of who we’re facing, there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done in Spring Training, and that’s a big series so we’re all excited.”