If one compiled a list of the five best New York Mets pitchers, based on longevity and production, atop the heap would be Tom Seaver, a one-time USC standout, and National League Rookie of the Year in 1967.
In a career that spanned 20 seasons and included 311 wins, 198 coming with the Mets, the hard-throwing, right-hander with boyish good looks and a media-friendly attitude, was a darling of Gotham, and would eventually be voted into the Hall of Fame.
What will be remembered forever by Mets fans was Seaver’s magical season in 1969 when he fashioned a 25-7 record with a 2.21 earned-run average, which led to him being tabbed the Cy Young award winner.
But the high water mark for the once-lowly Mets was their first-ever World Series title that season in a five-game thrashing of the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles.
Next in line would be Dwight Gooden, who won 157 of his 194 victories while toiling at Shea Stadium, and who helped pace the Mets to the 1986 World Series crown, followed by Jerry Koosman (140), Ron Darling (99), and Sid Fernandez (98).
The Mets have been around since 1962, and have enjoyed a few marvelous seasons, but more losing ones like the stretch fans have endured the last four-plus.
If there is one bright spot, it’s Matt Harvey, who rekindles memories of a young Seaver, who was also on a Mets squad that reached the 1973 World Series.
Coming into this past weekend, Harvey was 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA. He leads the NL in strikeouts with 147, while walking 28. Harvey’s record could be better, but he has 10 no-decisions.
Harvey began 2013 with four consecutive wins, was named to his first All-Star team, and was the starting hurler in the Midsummer Classic which was held at New York’s Citi Field.
Harvey was selected in the third round by the Angels in 2007 as a senior in high school, but opted not to sign. Instead, Harvey, after a brilliant prep career in Groton, Connecticut, took his big right arm to the University of North Carolina, where he played three seasons and went 22-7 with a 3.73 ERA, along with 263 strikeouts.
Blessed with four pitches that include a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up, what impressed scouts was Harvey’s over-powering heater that’s been clocked at 97 miles an hour.
In five games, Harvey, who was drafted by the Mets in the first round and seventh overall in 2010, has fanned 10 or more with a high of 13 on June 18 at Atlanta as New York prevailed, 4-3. Harvey also whiffed 12 on May 7 versus the Chicago White Sox and came away with a 1-0 victory.
Mets Manager Terry Collins knows he has an ace in the 24-year-old Harvey, who wants to work deep into the game. So far, Harvey has posted 13 games in which he’s gone at least seven innings.
There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Queens, but Harvey looks to erase the Mets’ woeful 41-50 record in the second half, and has designs on bringing back the glory days of Seaver.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.