PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) The New York Mets are giving the ball to Matt Harvey, who will get another shot at the World Series champions on opening day.
Manager Terry Collins announced the decision Thursday for the April 3 game in Kansas City.
“Terry could have announced anybody,” Harvey said. “So for me getting the nod it’s a huge honor. I think it’s all about how we start and come out and I definitely feel a year after (Tommy John) surgery, I’m definitely 100 percent.”
Harvey started Games 1 and 5 against the Royals in the World Series last year. The Mets lost both games in extra innings.
In Game 5, Harvey lobbied Collins to send him back to the mound for the ninth inning with the Mets up 2-0. Harvey gave up a walk and an RBI double to the first two batters before being pulled in favor of closer Jeurys Familia. The Royals tied the score in the ninth and won the game – and the series – in the 12th inning.
“It’s kind of interesting how the schedule worked out … It’s going to be great atmosphere obviously going into Kansas City and playing against them,” Harvey said. “It’s going to bring back a lot of memories, but it’s also going to bring back a lot of fire.”
Harvey was the NL starter in the 2013 All-Star Game but missed all of 2014 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He was 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 189.1 innings pitched in 2015, earning the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Harvey also went 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four postseason starts.
“Matt’s the guy, deservedly so in my opinion,” Collins said. “I just thought the way he finished last year, the way he’s throwing the ball right now, Comeback Player of the Year – there’s a lot of things that led up to it. Jake (Jacob deGrom) was certainly in consideration along with everybody really but maybe (Steven Matz), but we knew if there was any question at all he could have been the guy. We just thought a lot of the situations we’re facing, Matt would be the guy.”
DeGrom’s wife, Stacey, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child during the first week of the regular season, and he plans to be at the birth. Collins said he factored that into the decision.
“That was an issue,” Collins said. “We don’t know what it’s going to be. We hope he’s available. We hope that the baby arrives early, but I’ve got play it safe and go with the guy I know will be there.”
Collins said he’s planned the rotation for the rest of the first week, including the possibility of having two starters pitch April 5, but will not yet announce it because he’s unsure of deGrom’s availability.
Harvey will be the sixth different opening day starter the past six years for the Mets. Bartolo Colon started last year.
Collins also said he thinks shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (knee) will be ready for opening day. Cabrera was diagnosed with a strained patella tendon in his left knee last week. He has been riding a stationary bike and could begin throwing and tracking pitches in the batting cage soon.