Tonight will be a pivot moment in Matt Harvey’s career. Billed as New York’s ace, Harvey will take the ball at Citi Field in a pivotal Game 3. Harvey, who is no stranger to the spotlight, will have a chance to move New York one step closer to the National League Championship Series. Harvey loves the spotlight; his whole persona is built upon seizing the big moment. In some ways, tonight’s game is reminiscent of the New York Yankees’ run in the late 1990s. Granted, the Mets have not won a World Series title since 1986, but Game 3 has a ‘big game feel’ to it. Big games require big performances and fans are used to seeing New York athletes rise to the occasion. Andy Pettitte made a career of pitching in (and winning) big playoff games. Pettitte, who has arguably the best resume in playoff history (42 starts, 263 innings, 19 wins, five World Series rings), brought intensity and determination to the mound. Pettitte, however, found a way to harness that intensity as he methodically worked through opposing lineups. Harvey has elite ‘stuff’, but can he harness his emotions and deliver an elite performance? There’s a lot of bad blood between these two teams after Chase Utley’s controversial slide in Game 2. As a side note, Utley, who is appealing his suspension, is 6-for-18 with one home run against Harvey.
The Mets, alike the late 1990s Yankees, are the only show in town. Football is on the back burner and the Mets are front and center in the minds and hearts of New York sports fans. The onus is on Matt Harvey to deliver an elite performance. Given his make-up, mentality, and propensity for the spotlight, expect Matt Harvey to deliver a big performance tonight.