This two-game, mid-week Interleague series comes with built-in drama, as Wednesday marks Matt Harvey’s first career start against the Mets as well as a return to the Citi Field rubber.
Traded by the Mets to the Reds in 2018, Harvey starred for New York for much of the half-decade prior, going 25-18 with 2.53 ERA from 2012-15 in Flushing before his production faded amid injuries and controversy.
It won’t be the first time Harvey steps into Citi Field’s visiting dugout. He returned as a Red shorty after the ’18 trade, but did not pitch in the series. Still, Wednesday may conjure all sorts of emotions for Harvey, who started the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi and helped lead the Mets to the World Series in 2015.
“He’s been back here, but hasn’t pitched here against the Mets,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Matt is so even-keeled and level-headed, it’s hard to tell how up or down he is ever. He’s just professional. I know he’s looking forward to tomorrow.”
Requested for comment, Harvey declined to speak publicly prior to his start Wednesday. That left Hyde to answer several questions Tuesday regarding the right-hander's return, including from the New York media. Harvey is 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA in seven starts this season, winning three of his past four.
“I’ve been impressed with him,” Hyde said. “He has the four-seamer and the sinker now, he’s getting more and more confident with his changeup. The slider has improved since Spring Training. He’s gone out and attacked hitters since the season started. Those who have watched him for years know how competitive he is and how much he wants the ball. He’s had a really nice start to the year and I know he’s in a good place right now.”
Stewart available to pinch-hit
The left hamstring tweak that kept DJ Stewart out of the Orioles' lineup for the second straight game Tuesday shouldn’t sideline the outfielder for long. Stewart seems likely to avoid the injured list after Hyde said he’d be available off the bench for Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.
“His hamstring is getting a lot better,” Hyde said.
Stewart suffered the injury running down the first base line on Sunday, roughly a month after he got over a more severe strain to the same hamstring. That issue sidelined Stewart for more than a month, costing him most of Spring Training and the first week or so of regular-season games.
Prior to Sunday, he’d been serving as the Orioles' everyday right fielder for the past two-plus weeks in place of the injured Anthony Santander, hitting .187 with two homers and a .616 OPS in 24 games overall.
The Orioles announced Tuesday they lost reliever Jay Flaa on a waiver claim to the Braves, a few days after he was designated for assignment. Flaa, 28, made one relief appearance for the Orioles in April, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his MLB debut. The transaction ends the six-year tenure in the organization for Faa, who was the O’s sixth-round pick out of North Dakota State University in 2015.