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 examine 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 way of four 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 placing out two batters in a matchup in opposition to the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers, setting the tone in an eventual 6-2 victory a Dodger Stadium.
Harvey, on a restricted pitch depend for what represented his first begin in greater than three weeks, required solely 55 pitches to report 12 outs. Thirty-two of them have 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 prime of the primary inning. The 29-year-old right-hander felt what he known as “first-time jitters,” and it confirmed when his first three fastballs veered off the plate. But Harvey got here again to retire Chase Utley on a flyout, then made fast work of the subsequent three hitters.
With one out in 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 bought Max Muncy to line out to heart area.
The subsequent six batters have been retired in quick order.
“He threw the ball well,” mentioned Reds interim supervisor Jim Riggleman, who will begin Harvey once more on the highway in opposition to 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 biggest pitcher for a quick second in time. He began the All-Star Game and completed fourth in National League Cy Young 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 Series-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 tough for pitchers from which to recuperate. His 2017 season included a stress fracture in his shoulder and was bookended by battle. In 2018, he was demoted to the bullpen, then designated for project 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 organize for Harvey’s debut, however he made probably 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 carefully 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. But 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 way of the air, a development that won’t play favorably on the Reds’ unforgiving dwelling stadium.
But Harvey skilled actual, authentic 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 four innings was sufficient to validate his perception that he might proceed to be an efficient beginning pitcher. “Tonight was a good first start, and we just have to keep working from here.”