But his career got sidetracked, mostly because of self-inflicted wounds.
"I'm disappointed in myself," Harvey told reporters in a harsh assessment Wednesday after the Los Angeles Angels' first official workout of spring training.
Harvey posted a 6.00 ERA in four starts for the Mets last season and was demoted to the bullpen. The right-hander was traded to Cincinnati after refusing a minor league assignment.
His troubles weren't limited to the field, however. In 2017, he was suspended three games for not showing up at the park for a Saturday game after partying on Friday night and playing golf in the morning. Four days before the Mets cut ties with Harvey, he was spotted partying in Beverly Hills the night before pitching against San Diego.
"I wouldn't say I'm happy for the experiences I've gone through, but I think for the rest of my career it'll better me as a teammate and a player," Harvey said. "It will definitely help in my workouts and performance. In between starts, it's definitely lit a fire under my rear end and made me strive to be better."
Harvey explained that after bad starts, he'd go to the weight room to work out. But not after good starts.
"When things are going great, you kind of get comfortable," he said. "I wish I had gone back after good starts and gotten after it a little more."
Harvey is getting a fresh start with the Angels, having signed a one-year, $11 million deal in December. The club is hoping Harvey can have one of the better bounce-back seasons in recent memory. Just shy of his 30th birthday, Harvey seems intent on recapturing the magic that made every one of his home starts "Harvey Day" in Queens when he anchored the Mets' staff.
"My arm feels great, and I can't wait to get out there and start turning things around," Harvey told ESPN.
First-year manager Brad Ausmus, wanting to get an up-close look at Harvey, put on catcher's gear and caught Harvey's first bullpen session on Tuesday and was impressed.
The former big league catcher, in his second stint as a manager, doesn't see any reason to coddle Harvey.
"I don't think there's any hand-holding that has to go on," Ausmus said. "Matt Harvey is an adult. That's exactly how we should treat our guys -- like adults -- unless they show us that they shouldn't be. He's not going to get any special treatment."