It was at least a start. Thirteen months after he was last on a big-league mound, Matt Harvey was back.
His brief outing wasn’t the Dark Knight of old. He allowed three runs over three innings in his Royals debut against the Reds, a 5-0 defeat at Kauffman Stadium. But it wasn’t a disaster, either.
The former Mets right-hander yielded home runs to Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker, while striking out four and walking two.
“It was kind of a surreal moment,” Harvey told MLB.com. “A lot of different nerves that I haven’t felt in a while. In my mind it was just two bad pitches that home run hitters are not going to miss. I think fine-tuning the offspeed is the next thing to come.”
Harvey flopped with the Angels last year, posting a 7.09 ERA in 12 starts before getting released on July 21. He signed a minor-league deal with the A’s, but never got called up. The 31-year-old opted for free agency. In July, he agreed to a minor-league deal with the Royals.
“I was really, really impressed,” Royals manager Mike Matheny told reporters following the game. “It was better than even what I expected or from what I saw on video, seeing it live, I’m really happy with how the ball was jumping out of his hand.”
Harvey’s velocity, an issue since he returned from Tommy John surgery in 2015, was better from last year, with an average fastball of 93.5 mph. He hit 95.5 on the gun in the first inning and did produce seven swings-and-misses, though he was down to 91 by his final hitter.
“The fastball has been coming out pretty good at the alternate site,” Harvey said. “I spent a lot of time trying to throw that down in the zone. I was working the corners pretty well. I was pretty happy with that. It’s in there.”
Harvey was limited to 54 pitches.
“I don’t know if Matt realizes how good his fastball is right now,” Matheny said. “Hitters need to see how good that fastball is, and then his breaking stuff will be that much better.”