Originally written on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 7/27/12

The Thursday Takeaway
With Johan Santana on the disabled list and R.A. Dickey’s magic beginning to wear, the Mets needed another impact pitcher to keep their plummeting playoff hopes alive. If Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks is any indication, that problem is solved.

Matt Harvey, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, was tasked with snapping a six-game skid in his major-league debut last night. He proved himself ready by posting a 112-to-48 K/BB in 110 innings for Triple-A Buffalo, and validated the Mets’ faith by contributing 5 1/3 shutout innings to the winning effort.

But that hardly does justice to the dazzling display Harvey put on for the 22,010 in attendance at Chase Field. The 23-year-old righty allowed only three hits and three walks, two of which came as fatigue set in during the bottom of the sixth inning. More impressively, he struck out 11 Diamondbacks batters, the highest strikeout total any pitcher has posted in his debut since Stephen Strasburg fanned 14 Pirates on June 8, 2010.

And, as if that weren’t enough, Harvey also went 2-for-2 at the plate against Arizona starter Wade Miley, becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to collect at least two hits and whiff at least 10 batters in his first career start. The former University of North Carolina standout’s effort may have been the most impressive two-way debut since Jason Jennings hurled a complete-game shutout and hit a home run in his opening salvo on Aug. 23, 2001. (Incidentally, the Mets were on the wrong end of that 10-0 defeat.)

If there is one knock on Harvey’s first start, it’s that he threw a season-high 106 pitches to record 16 outs, taxing a bullpen that has blown 16 saves this year. Interim closer Bobby Parnell needed 31 pitches to earn his third save, and, as a result, the Mets combined to throw 178 pitches despite allowing only one run.

Dominance at the cost of efficiency is a tradeoff manager Terry Collins would make in a heartbeat at every turn, but if Harvey wants to add more wins to his ledger, working deeper into games will be his next challenge. Assuming the Mets stick to their current pitching schedule, his next start will come on Tuesday night in San Francisco.

***

By the way, two hours before Harvey took the mound in the desert, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte also made a splash in his first taste of The Show. Manager Clint Hurdle put the 23-year-old toolshed atop his batting order for the series opener in Houston, and Marte promptly went deep on the first pitch of the game. Marte’s attempt to steal home in the fifth inning was less successful, but he certainly did his part to catalyze Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win over the Astros.

What to Watch for This Weekend

  • The American League’s Cinderella wild-card contenders will square off at Camden Yards this weekend, as the 53-45 A’s visit the 52-47 Orioles. Coco Crisp, who was ice-cold for the first three-plus months of the season, has been red-hot since the start of July, logging a .361/.394/.590 triple slash with three home runs. The switch-hitting center fielder’s surge has been vital to Oakland’s 16-3 run, and he will try to keep it going in Baltimore, where he has hit .295/.377/.419 in 31 career games (Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET).
  • Push came to shove for the Phillies and Cole Hamels earlier this week, and they hammered out a six-year, $144 million extension to keep the lefty around through 2018. Now, with that new deal in hand, Hamels gets the ball to kick off a pivotal series at Turner Field that could alter general manager Ruben Amaro’s deadline plans. The Phillies are 9 ½ games behind the Braves and 14 ½ shy of the first-place Nationals, but they have won four in a row, and a sweep in Atlanta could change their outlook on the trade market. Their first challenge: getting past Ben Sheets, who has tossed 12 scoreless innings since joining the Braves rotation on July 15 (Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET).
  • Three games separate the top two teams in the National League West, putting the division lead on the line when the Dodgers come to AT&T Park this weekend. Don Mattingly’s team is 0-2 in the Hanley Ramirez era, but don’t blame their new third baseman—he has gone 3-for-6 with three walks since the trade. Ramirez is 7-for-25 with two doubles and a home run in his previous meetings with tonight’s Giants starter, Matt Cain (Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET).
  • With the Yankees ahead by 10 ½ games, the Red Sox’ American League East ship has sailed, but the upcoming series in the Bronx could impact Boston’s wild card hopes. A sweep would likely leave Bobby Valentine’s team six or seven games back in the crowded race—and that outcome could drive general manager Ben Cherington to move short-term assets, such as Cody Ross and Josh Beckett, at the upcoming deadline. As the Red Sox look to turn their season around, they need the pre-2012 Jon Lester to reemerge as soon as possible. Lester has failed to complete the fifth inning in each of his past three starts, and his ERA has ballooned from 4.33 to 5.46 over that span. He’ll try to bounce back in a duel with CC Sabathia in game two (Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET). 
  • First, Ichiro Suzuki made his Yankees debut at Safeco Field, the only home park he had known as a major leaguer. Now, Wandy Rodriguez—who was traded to the Pirates earlier this week—will return to Minute Maid Park to take on the team that signed him out of the Dominican Republic as Eny Cabreja in 1999. The 33-year-old southpaw has logged a 3.42 ERA over 12 starts in Houston this season, and he is scheduled to face his former mates in game three of a four-game set that began last night (Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET).
  • Trade talks between the Angels and the Rays have reportedly “fizzled out,” but perhaps they will be rekindled as Tampa Bay comes to Southern California for a three-game series this weekend. James Shields allowed five runs in six innings and was charged with the loss to the Orioles on Thursday, and the uniform he will wear for his next start is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, the Rays will hope that Matt Moore’s no-walk outing versus the Mariners on Monday—his first such effort in 19 starts this season—is a sign of things to come. The 22-year-old southpaw will lock horns with C.J. Wilson in the middle match (Saturday, 9:05 p.m. ET).
  • General manager Doug Melvin has made up his mind: Zack Greinke will be traded. The question is whether that trade will be made before Sunday afternoon, when he is expected to do battle with Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals. Greinke’s strong effort against the Phillies on Tuesday proved to potential suitors that the 28-year-old’s right arm is healthy and ready for a playoff push, and an encore at Miller Park this weekend could serve as evidence of his ability to beat the senior circuit’s best team to date. If he is shipped elsewhere before the series finale, Greinke will leave Milwaukee having gone 25-9 with a 3.67 ERA over 49 starts (Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET).
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jason Kidd to be named general manager of Bucks

USWNT romps Japan 5-2 to win third Women's World Cup title

Report: JPP 'severely injured' hand in fireworks mishap

Blatter: European politicians helped Qatar land World Cup

Report: Cavs considering trading for Joe Johnson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Andrew Quarless found hiding in plant after firing gun

Odell Beckham: I don't want to be known only for 'the catch'

Borland on retirement: Health 'more important' than money

Three NBA teams that improved most early in offseason

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

Clippers in talks with JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudemire

2015 All-Star starters announced, featuring four Royals

WATCH: Jake Marisnick makes fantastic running catch

WATCH: Carlos Gomez leaves gum, note for Billy Hamilton

Kansas to wear new USA jerseys after request from FIBA

What can the Saints expect from CJ Spiller in 2015?

Isaiah Thomas trolls Kings after Rajon Rondo signing

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

2015 All-Star starters announced

JPP injured in fireworks mishap?

Odell Beckham doesn't want to be known for 'the catch'

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.