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The Big Read: Matt Harvey and the power of the pitching phenom

Apr 27, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT

Matt Harvey Getty Getty Images

In today’s Big Read, Joe Posnanski takes a look at Matt Harvey‘s impressive start to his major league career and the idea of pitching phenoms in general. In doing so, Posnanski turns back the clock to examine some other pitchers who dominated early on in their careers, including Steve Rogers, Mark Fidrych, Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden and Hideo Nomo. It’s a fun ride.

So, when a young pitcher shows up like Matt Harvey with insane fastballs and exploding sliders … there’s something magical about it. Something unlimited. A quarterback, even a perfect one, needs receivers, an offensive line, a running game, a shrewd offensive coordinator. A basketball player, no matter how good, cannot take on five defenders at a time. A pitcher, though, has the ball. He is only limited by the imagination.

And so every time a Hideo Nomo or Dwight Gooden or Matt Harvey shows up on the scene, the possibilities are endless. In many ways, I’ve marked my baseball life by the pitching phenoms who kept showing up.

Great stuff, as always. Speaking of pitching phenoms, Harvey is scheduled to face Marlins’ rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez in his next start on Monday. That’s one tasty matchup.

  1. cadillacjosh - Apr 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    In totally unrelated news, on MLB the show, Hernandez is a 78, which is fair for his ago. But he never really gets any better. Jacob Turner on the other hand turns into like a 94, so if you can swing a trade for him, its totally worth it. But you usually have to take on Ricky Nolasco’s contract.

    Matt Harvey is awesome. He’s been the deciding factor in a few fantasy match ups for me.

    And that should be all for arbitrary news from me for Saturday. Thank you all for your time.

  2. jaredo10 - Apr 27, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Good for Mets Fans. They deserve his success

  3. forsch31 - Apr 27, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    “The pitcher is the only athlete in sports that is credited with a win or a loss. You could argue — I have argued many times — that it’s silly to credit a pitcher with a win or loss. We do it anyway and have for more than a hundred years. We don’t do that for a quarterback or a point guard or a goaltender or a goalkeeper.”

    Joe, unfortunately, needs to check his facts. The NHL has always credited goaltenders with wins and losses. In fact, their leaders page includes a “wins” category for goaltenders.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 27, 2013 at 4:48 PM

      And to add to that, QB’s get “wins” hung on them all the time. It’s not an official stat, but lets not act like it doesn’t happen.

      To me, it’s silly to have a stat that measures what the entire team does, and credit a single individual in that context.

  4. Mark - Apr 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Thanks for pointing that out Harry. I imagine it was very important to bring up the Blue Jays record when discussing Matt Harvey’s success in his limited exposure to the majors..

    • dirtyharry1971 - Apr 28, 2013 at 3:18 AM

      It was very important and actually the Jays are now 9-16 holding up the basement in the AL East!! As for the Mutts, who cares? They aint going anywhere and will never win another WS so get over yourself

  5. yousuxxors - Apr 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    yea but a goalie still needs a defense in front of him to be successful. yea they can be the deciding factor. a pitcher can dominate with a pos team … look at Harvey.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 27, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      Your argument is so thin, it hardly warrants a response, but oh we’ll– I’ll be your huckleberry.

      You seem to be forgetting that a pitcher needs and entire defense behind him, unless he’s planning to throw 27 consecutive strike outs. Not to mention an entire 8- or 9-man offense designed to, you know, put runs on the board.

      Like it or not, the pitcher can’t score runs from the mound. And last time I heard from Madden or McCarver, they were busy telling us you had to out score the other team to win the game.

  6. yousuxxors - Apr 28, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    a pitchers defense behind him is 100 times less important than a goalies defense in front of him.

  7. bigleagues - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Rogers would go on to be a fine pitcher, winning 158 games and leading the league in ERA in 1982.

    Steve Rogers won 158 Games in 1982?! How come no one ever talks about this?

    Also, interesting he chose the pitchers he chose. Because what does everyone of them have in common?

    At some point during the splash and rise sportswriters and fans alike had them earmarked for the Hall of Fame. And NONE of them ended up being serious candidates.

    IMHO the word ‘phenom’ is somewhat misplaced here anyway. Surely Roger Clemens, Tim Lincecum, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier and Dontrelle Willis were all “phenoms”. And to a certain extent, so were guys like Greinke and Rijo. I guess none of them marked a point in Posnanski’s life.

    But what of the ever-elusive true phenom tag?! I think it’s a term that needs a formal definition in the context of baseball, once and for all …

    Here is a starting point:

    “Any pitcher who arrives at the Major League level no later than his Age 22 season; and with a minimum of or no Minor League experience (to be quantified) preceding his promotion to the Majors; and who by the end of his first Major League season is considered among the very best pitchers in all of baseball.”

  8. moogro - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I think a goalie and a pitcher are analogous. It really shows in the playoffs, where a lot of the drama comes from having balls of steel and single-handedly dominating.

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