The Mets weren’t entirely sure Matt Harvey was ready, but the 2010 first-round pick sure looked the part in his debut Thursday against the Diamondbacks.
While pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings, Harvey became just the 13th pitcher in major league history to strike out at least 11 batters in his debut. He allowed three hits and walked three on his way to getting the victory in the Mets’ 3-1 win.
The major league record of strikeouts in a debut is 15, established by the Dodgers’ Karl Spooner in 1954 and matched by the Astros’ J.R. Richard in 1971. Stephen Strasburg fanned 14 in his first start two years ago. Besides Strasburg, the most recent pitcher to strike out at least 11 batters in his debut was Oakland’s Tim Hudson in 1999.
Harvey definitely seemed amped up tonight, throwing 95-98 mph instead of his usual 93-96 mph. He wasn’t flawless when it came to command, but Diamondbacks hitters were swinging right through his fastball and slider. It looks like he’ll be a force to be reckoned with, perhaps in the batter’s box as well. He doubled and singled in his only two at-bats tonight.
Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.
Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.
Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.
Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.