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Stephen Strasburg set a new standard for major league debuts in 2010 when he struck out 14 batters over seven innings in his first big league appearance.
Strasburg's ascension is a big part of the reason why the Nationals have replaced the Phillies as the team the Mets are looking up at this season and it is hard not to think that the Mets need to find a pitcher like him if they are going to hoist themselves onto that pedestal at some point in the future.
They would love if that pitcher turned out to be Matt Harvey and so far so good on that front.
Harvey made his much anticipated debut on Thursday night in Arizona and there was more than a little Strasburg in the way he mowed down the Diamondbacks. Harvey set a Mets record with 11 strikeouts in his first major league start and allowed no runs in 5.1 innings of a 3-1 win that snapped the latest Mets losing streak at six games.
Watching Harvey led to two primary thoughts, depending on if you wanted to spend your time looking forward or looking backward. The forward view was one of hopeful excitement for a future when Harvey's A-level fastball is at the front of a rotation that also features Zack Wheeler on a Mets team that has enough depth and talent to be serious playoff contenders.
The backward view is one that makes you wonder about the sensibilities of an organization that chose to send Miguel Batista to the mound instead of Harvey in a game they absolutely had to win to keep faint hopes of relevance alive. While it is always tempting to find some reason to castigate the guys in charge, the forward view is the correct one.
Harvey's arrival is the first tangible moment where the promises made by Sandy Alderson of a brighter tomorrow felt like they were about more than words. It's easy to sell people on the idea of things getting better, especially when you're living in the present with these Mets, but you can't over-promise and then under-deliver without serious ramifications.
With Harvey, Alderson has his first evidence that he hasn't done that. Harvey did more than live up to the mountains of hype heaped on him this season, he surpassed it with a tantalizing fastball, good enough secondary stuff and hits in his first two at bats for good measure.
There will be less successful days ahead, of course, and we can't know exactly what the future has in store for Harvey or the Mets. We can be hopeful about that future, though, and hope was in pretty short supply before Harvey toed the rubber on Thursday night.
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