PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Harvey suggests the NL All-Star starting assignment is beyond his control, that he is focused only on his next outing, this weekend against the Washington Nationals.
But the New York Mets ace clearly merits starting the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field.
Here are four reasons why:
He's going to win the Cy Young. And shouldn't someone on track to win the Cy Young also get the midsummer honor?
Through 16 starts, Harvey is 7-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 121 strikeouts, a 0.882 WHIP, 4 homers allowed and a .188 opponent batting average.
Through 16 starts a season ago en route to the NL Cy Young Award, R.A. Dickey was 12-1 with a 2.15 ERA, 116 strikeouts, 0.885 WHIP, 9 homers allowed and a .190 opponent batting average.
So, other than the out-of-his-control win criteria, Harvey is better than last year's Cy Young winner in every one of those statistical categories at the same point in the season.
As for the win-loss total, remember this: During a 10-start stretch from April 24-June 13, Harvey had little run support. He had one win despite posting a 2.51 ERA during that span.
He's the NL's Justin Verlander. We've lost count of the number of players, coaches and scouts who have compared Harvey to the Detroit Tigers ace, with an occasional Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez sprinkled in.
One of the major reasons, aside from dominance: Like Verlander, Harvey maintains his velocity throughout his entire start. While tossing six scoreless innings Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies, in an outing cut short by a rain delay, Harvey's fastball averaged a career-high 97.2 mph.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Harvey threw 23 fastballs at 98 mph or faster Sunday, the second most by a starter this season. Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole threw 25 pitches that met that criteria Friday.
In Harvey's career, opposing hitters are 0-for-31 with 22 strikeouts on fastballs that register 98 mph or more.
"He holds his velocity like Verlander does through the game," Phillies third baseman Michael Young said. "Felix was like that for a long time. But Verlander jumps out with good velocity and he can throw off-speed pitches for strikes, too. Command is the most important thing. There are a lot of guys in the big leagues that throw hard. [Harvey] can control his pitches and gets ahead in the count. That's why he's had his success. And when you couple that with great stuff, that's why he's had a lot of success."
The Mets host the damn game. This may not be the most compelling argument, but the game is in Flushing. So how about throwing the home team a bone?
NL skipper Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants has signaled a close call probably would tip in Harvey's favor because of the Citi Field factor.
"Now, I also believe that whoever deserves to go, whoever deserves to start that game, should get that," Bochy recently told SiriusXM. "But all things even, then I think you look at something like that -- a guy that's in his hometown pitching."
Harvey is the best choice. OK, Harvey is not the NL wins leader. That distinction is shared by Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann and Lance Lynn with 10 apiece. And Harvey is not the ERA leader -- not yet, anyway. Right now Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (2.01) edges Harvey by four-hundredths of a point. (A more reasonable scoring decision at Wrigley Field earlier this season would have tipped that in Harvey's favor.)
Regardless, how about what Harvey means to the Mets? They have a .625 winning percentage in his starts and .357 winning percentage otherwise.
Harvey leads the NL in opponents' OPS (.491) and well-hit average (.086), according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also is the league leader in strikeouts (121) and WHIP (0.88).
In terms of WAR, which measures a player's contribution to winning, Harvey also is at the head of the NL class. He owns a league-leading 4.2 WAR, topping runner-up Cliff Lee (4.1), Clayton Kershaw (4.0), Wainwright (3.8) and any other NL All-Star starter contender.