Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Matt Harvey and the Killer Instinct

Over the last decade, the Mets have had their chances at becoming a winning ball club. They had talent. They had pitching. They even had opportunities. But the thing that was missing most was the mental fortitude to get the job done.

Blowpens and bad hitting aside, there was an aura surrounding this team that they didn't have what it takes mentally to get the job done. Is this a measurable metric? No, but its evidence is everywhere. The Mets have started several seasons in really great fashion, but only to falter late. Early leads in games have given way to blown saves and an inability to hit late in games.

Hits and RBI with 2 outs and runners in scoring position used to be something the Mets thrived on in '06, but has since faded. Is the ability to hit, throw and field different in the first three innings of a game than the last? No, but mentally it is. That's why you see career 90% free throw shooters brick back to back foul shots in the final minute. It's why Tony Romo puts up ridiculous fantasy football numbers, but can't win a playoff game.

It's a lack of a killer instinct. But that trait that has been missing for some time is pretty evident in Matt Harvey.

His moxy, his presence and even his words in interviews prove he mentally has what it takes to face whatever barrier appear in his way and overcome it. His sampling is still small, but when he gets into jams he doesn't implode. He fights through it. He'll give up runs, but he won't give up a ton.

Think about RA Dickey the last few years. Tremendous pitcher and an incredible year last year, but we all know when he didn't have his knuckleball going, he was going to give up not 2 or 3 runs but more like 6 or 7.

Matt Harvey may have a bad day in his future, but I don't think it will be like that. To be cliche he has the heart of a champion. You can see it on the mound and it's why Mets fans are so enamored with him.

We've seen pitchers who can throw as hard as he does and who've had the early success he has. But we've never been as excited about Parnell or Gee or any other young pitcher with talents similar to Harvey.

It's his killer instinct that we can sense will eventually lead us to some much needed wins.

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