Matt Harvey placed an exclamation point on his excellent start to the season Tuesday night with 9 one-hit innings, let’s take a look at how he’s doing it with a slant towards the visual.
Harvey is one of the hardest throwing starters in the league on a typical night, and he had a little extra on his stuff against the WhiteSox, averaging over 95 miles per hour on his fastball. I’ve captured, stabilized and overlaid a selection of his primary pitches below.
While the curve in this group is a little errant, you can see the sharp action off a similar trajectory of his other offerings. Harvey gets good use out of his changeup and curveball, particularly against lefties, but it’s the mid-90s fastball and hard slider that have been his best tools. Here is a focused view of those two offerings.
You can see why he leads the NL in swinging strike percentage. As good as his stuff is, Harvey did have questions for his 2013 outlook coming into the year. As rookie pitchers have been known to do, he walked 26 batters in 59 1/3 innings throughout the 2012 season. Harvey has kept the walks in check this season, down to 12 in 48 1/3 innings including making it through the WhiteSox without issuing a free pass.
As an experiment I thought I’d try to compliment the available PITCHf/x data with a visual look at his command during last night’s game. I have stabilized footage of the first 11 fastballs to reach catcher John Buck, using Buck’s target as a focal point. With a small sample size, lack of reference and without knowledge of Harvey’s true target I stress this is merely an experiment.
Finally, I will leave you with a sampling of last night’s strikeout pitch sequences. Here is Alexei Ramirez.
Here’s Hector Santiago.
Here’s Jordan Danks.
Not bad, Mr. Harvey. Not bad.
Drew Sheppard is a writer for FanGraphs, graphic artist and GIF enthusiast. If you have a topic you would like Drew to take a look at in the future using overlay GIFs, please let him know in the comments here or on Twitter @DShep25.