By MIKE FERKO
One of the most intriguing questions surrounding the Mets this spring has finally been answered; “Who will start Opening Day?”. Terry Collins has named Matt Harvey the opening day starter for April 3rd against the Kansas City Royals. This will be Matt Harvey’s first career Opening Day start.
Harvey has expressed excitement for this prestigious opportunity, saying that getting the ball in the first game of the season is a “huge honor”. After missing all of the 2014 season while healing from Tommy John surgery, Harvey won 2015 national league comeback player of the year. His 2015 stats included 13 wins, an impressive 2.71 earned run average, and 188 strikeouts in 189.1 innings pitched.
Captain David Wright believes that anybody in the projected rotation could be the ace of the staff. Wright said that the decision could have been as simple as flipping a coin; “You could go with anybody and there would be no argument. But I think Matt, as far as the young guys go, certainly deserved it”. Elaborating on what Wright said, the Mets rotation is chock full of pitchers who could be deemed with ace status.
A case for an Opening Day start can be made for Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Bartolo Colon. Jacob deGrom started the first game of the division series last year against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as the series clinching game five. Syndergaard had a superb rookie campaign last year, and his consistent 95+ MPH fastball combined with his filthy breaking pitches would cause no argument had he been named the Opening Day starter. Steven Matz still has a lot to prove, so it almost doesn’t come as a surprise that he wasn’t named the starter over the aforementioned three. Bartolo Colon is the most experienced out of the Mets squad, but his finesse style of pitching does not compare to the capability of the younger four, all of whom have the stuff to make hitters whiff. Unfortunately, Zack Wheeler is missing the start of the season due to recovering from Tommy John Surgery, so he can not compete; had he been healthy, an Opening Day start wouldn’t cause any arguments either.
According to multiple sources, deGrom may miss the opening series because his wife is due to give birth. deGrom told reporters that he needs to be there when his son is born.
Harvey is the sixth Mets pitcher in as many years to toe the rubber on Opening Day, with Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Bartolo Colon each earning a start to begin the 2011-2015 season, respectively.
As previously mentioned, the Mets start on Sunday, April 3rd. The rest of opening week consists of an off-day on Monday, a getaway game on Tuesday, two days off on Wednesday and Thursday, and a weekend series beginning on Friday at Citi Field against the Philadelphia Phillies. Because of the two straight days off, which is virtually unheard of in the baseball world (other than during the All-Star Break), Syndergaard may serve out of the bullpen for game two against the Royals.
Despite the Royals playing host to the Mets to start the season, expect to see a lot of Batman masks on for the Dark Knight at Kauffman Stadium. Matt Harvey, famously nicknamed “The Dark Knight”, will attempt to pitch well enough to earn the city of Gotham their first of many wins in the 2016 season.