Harvey makes home debut vs. Braves tonight

There isn’t too much to get excited about as a Mets fans nowadays. Fortunately, Matt Harvey has pitched reasonably well in two of his first three major league starts, so it’s not completely insane to think he might be good tonight in his home debut.

The Mets will play a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves tonight starting at 7:10 p.m. The Braves just beat Philly in two out of three games, and they’re just 4.5 games behind division leading Washington with the Stephen Strasberg shutdown looming. Atlanta is also up 2.5 games on the wild card, so they’re certainly feeling like a playoff team right now.

The starter for Atlanta will be trade deadline acquisition Paul Maholm, who has been surprisingly effective this season. Following a blowup in Arizona on June 23, when he gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings, Maholm had six straight starts in which he pitched at least six innings and either allowed one or zero runs. That prompted a trade from the Cubs to Atlanta, who couldn’t get a deal done for the Cub they really wanted, Ryan Dempster. However, the lefty Maholm may turn out to be a better value. In his first start with the Braves, he gave up three runs (all on Justin Maxwell’s two home runs) in seven innings in a loss to Houston.

Harvey, as you may know, got hammered in his most recent start, so we’re looking for less meatballs this time around. Mark Simon of ESPN has some ideas on how Harvey can avoid getting blasted versus Atlanta. I would look for the rookie to throw high fastballs against Jason Heyward and fading away change-ups to Freddie Freeman. Brian McCann is more vulnerable on the inside, so Harvey should give his fastball and slider and workout when the Braves’ catcher comes to the plate. When faced with the public enemy Chipper Jones, there’s not much you can do but aim for the lower outside corner.

Against the lefty Maholm, Terry Collins is going with Jason Bay, Scott Hairston and Ronny Cedeño instead of Jordanny Valdespin, Mike Baxter and Ike Davis. I don’t love leaving Davis out of the lineup because his power is such a huge asset, but Cedeño has been raking lately, so you have to find a way to get him in there.

Michael Bourn and Martin Prado haven’t been at their best lately, so it’s imperative that Harvey creates some outs at the top of the lineup to mitigate the damage done by Heyward, Jones and Freeman. Although Mark Simon listed McCann in his scouting report, it’s actually David Ross who gets the start tonight. Ross is a great-hitting catcher who I’m going to have my eye on this winter (he has free agency coming up).

Also, Mets Police has discovered some alternate 2013 All-Star logos that look legit. I love the apple design.

You can follow me on twitter @apy5000 for more Mets fun.

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