For all Matt Harvey has already accomplished in his still-young career -- an All-Star selection, two World Series starts, a 2.53 ERA and on and on and on -- there is plenty he has yet to achieve. So much of what Harvey still has to offer the Mets comes in the form of potential. Imagine that: he can still get better.
It's a quest that begins Sunday at 8:37 p.m. ET for Harvey at Kauffman Stadium, against the same Royals team that knocked him out of World Series Game 5 last November. Now more than two full years removed from Tommy John surgery, still with something to prove, Harvey will continue the process of defining himself as one of baseball's best starting pitchers.
"Going from missing a whole year to kind of having to re-establish myself and get back to where I needed to be, and now having the honor of leading us off, I couldn't be more proud and happy of the hard work," Harvey said last month. "This organization's given me that opportunity. It could have gone to anybody, and I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity."
Harvey declined to speak this week about his Opening Night assignment, and he has not granted an interview since New York's tabloid newspapers joked about his recent medical scare -- he remains on medication after passing a blood clot from his bladder early last week -- on their back pages. But the team's sense of confidence in Harvey is nonetheless evident.
"I thought he was the guy that should take the baseball," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I know he's excited about it."
There is a perception within the scouting community that Harvey's return from Tommy John last summer -- a 13-8 record and 2.71 ERA -- was merely some fraction of what he might accomplish with more time between him and surgery. Not always sharp this spring, Harvey still showed flashes of his old self. So with his health scare in the past, the Mets expect Harvey to thrive in Kansas City and beyond.
"There are guys that rise to the occasion," Collins said. "There are guys that when they're put in a tough spot, they pick up their game. And he's one of those kinds of guys."