Friday, April 19, 2013
Premier matchup tonight in New York
Any franchise trying to build itself into a legitimate contender knows one of the first pieces to a championship puzzle: An ace atop its rotation.
The Nationals knew this as they constructed their current club, tabbing Stephen Strasburg nearly four years ago as the No. 1 starter who would ultimately lead this team to the promised land. And, more recently, the Mets drew the same conclusion, selecting Matt Harvey seventh overall in the 2010 draft and hoping the big right-hander would develop into an ace.
Tonight, we get to see these two premier young hurlers go head-to-head, with Strasburg and Harvey drawing the starting assignments for the opener of a weekend series at Citi Field.
Harvey isn't shying away from the attention this elite matchup will receive.
"It's our first game back from a long road trip, and the Nationals are a good-hitting lineup," he told reporters on Wednesday. "And then you've got Strasburg on the mound on Friday night. So it's going to be fun. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Though both Strasburg and Harvey are power pitchers, they do have slightly different repertoires. Strasburg throws both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball while also possessing a "plus-plus" curveball and changeup. Harvey relies almost exclusively on a four-seamer, but throws both a slider and a curveball.
Strasburg's debut in 2010 drew as much hype as has ever been thrust upon a pitching prospect. Harvey's arrival last year was watched closely in New York, but didn't garner nearly as much attention from a national perspective.
Put their numbers up side-by-side, though, and you may be surprised how comparable they are. Look at their stats through the first 13 starts of their respective careers...
RECORD 5-3 6-5
ERA 2.71 2.21
IP 73.0 81.1
H 58 48
ER 22 20
BB 17 32
K 96 95
We all knew how good Strasburg was right out of the chute. Did we realize Harvey has been just as good (if not better) by most statistical measures?
Few would disagree that Strasburg has the higher ceiling of the two and is more likely to be one of the best pitchers in the game over the course of his career. But Harvey has certainly made a strong case for himself to date.
And tonight we'll get the first of likely many opportunities to see these two young NL East aces go head-to-head on the diamond.