W2W4: Matt Harvey vs. Nationals

Harvey and the record books

Harvey is no longer within striking distance in terms of any Mets records for strikeouts within a pitcher’s first “X” appearances.

Harvey has 53 whiffs through eight games. The Mets record for a pitcher in his first nine games is 73 by Dwight Gooden. Nolan Ryan ranks second with 65. Harvey should end up third by himself. His 53 are currently tied for that spot with Bill Pulsipher and Octavio Dotel.

Harvey’s pitch to watch

Harvey threw his fastball at its lowest strike rate in his last start against the Cardinals (57 percent) and gave up his most baserunners with it (seven) than in any of his starts so far.

The good thing is that there were no issues with its velocity. Harvey averaged 95 miles-per-hour with it, right on par with his season average.

This was actually the second straight start in which Harvey gave up three hits on pitches of at least 96 miles-per-hour (Phillies hitters also touched him for three hits).

In his first six starts, he gave up a total of two hits on the 83 pitches he threw of that speed.

How do you get Bryce Harper out?

Harvey has allowed eight hits in 20 at-bats to the left-handed hitters he’s faced in the last two games, so Harper poses a tough challenge today.

The good news for Harvey is that Harper doesn’t hit the 94-plus mile-per-hour heat all that well. The average major leaguer misses on one of every five swings against it. Harper misses at a rate of one out of four.

When Harvey gets a two-strike count, the fastball may be his best option. Harper has made 28 outs and gotten only three hits on 94-plus fastballs in two-strike situations. Harper’s other weakness is the changeup. His out-to-hit rate on two-strike changeups is 22-to-3.

How do you get Ryan Zimmerman out?

Zimmerman has hurt the Mets repeatedly this season, with at least one hit in 15 of 17 games against him.

There is no easy answer on how to get him, though the best option would seem to be to work him away. Zimmerman has averaged one extra-base hit for every 84 pitches he’s seen on the outer-half of the plate (or off the outside corner) this season, but has averaged one for every 28 he’s seen on the inner-half (or closer to him).

Zimmerman has been so tough against the Mets this year, even on pitches outside the strike zone. He is 8-for-20 against them this season when a turn ends with a pitch thrown out of the zone.

Harvey the hitter

Harvey is 4-for-7 against left-handed pitching in his brief career, after an 0-for-2 against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia in his last start. Of the 13 swings he’s taken against a lefty, he’s only missed on one of them.

Opposing pitchers enter 4-for-48 against Nationals starter John Lannan since the start of last season.

Washington monumental

Our stat of the day: The Nationals have won 13 games against the Mets this season. The Expos/Nats have only had two seasons in which they won more -- 1979 (15) and 2003 (14). Their seven wins at Citi Field is one shy of the most they’ve ever won against the Mets in New York. They won eight here in 1979.