JUPITER, Fla. -- Matt Harvey's big league statistics are beginning to grow into a significant sample size, and this much is clear: Harvey strikes out a lot of hitters.
With six more punchouts in Monday's 3-2 win against the Cardinals, Harvey upped his Grapefruit League total to 24 in 18 1/3 innings. That rate of 11.78 strikeouts per nine innings is easily the best among Mets starters in camp, and is not necessarily a personal outlier.
Harvey struck out 70 batters in his first 59 1/3 Major League innings last year -- a rate of 10.62 per nine innings. He maintained rates close to 10.00 throughout his Minor League career.
Only two MLB starting pitchers with at least 50 innings last season posted K/9 rates better than Harvey's: Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals and Max Scherzer of the Tigers, two of the most prolific strikeout artists in baseball.
"He's got that kind of stuff," manager Terry Collins said. "He's going to strike out a lot of guys."
But heavy strikeout totals are hardly the only measure of a pitcher's worth. Because they require at least three pitches by definition, strikeouts tend to drive up pitch counts and fatigue pitchers. Experiencing that problem at times last year, Harvey has seen it again this spring. He needed 80 pitches to complete 5 1/3 innings Monday, numbers not quite as efficient as he desires.
"Obviously a strikeout's good here and there," Harvey said. "I'm starting to learn that a ground ball's just as good. Going deep into a game's on my mind."
Opening Day lineup uncertain with Mets' injuries
JUPITER, Fla. -- Injuries and matchups will dictate what could be an extremely unfamiliar Opening Day lineup for the Mets.
There is a chance the Mets will open the regular season with David Wright and Daniel Murphy on the disabled list, as both are rehabbing from strained intercostal muscles. That would push backups Justin Turner and Jordany Valdespin into the Opening Day lineup.
Because the Mets will likely face Padres left-hander Clayton Richard on April 1, outfielder Collin Cowgill should also crack the Opening Day lineup, perhaps even lead off.
The result could be a starting nine that looks something like this: Cowgill, center field; Ruben Tejada, shortstop; Ike Davis, first base; Marlon Byrd, right field; Lucas Duda, left field; Turner, third base; Valdespin, second base; John Buck, catcher; Jon Niese, pitcher.
d'Arnaud earns valuable time as demotion nears
JUPITER, Fla. -- Mets catcher John Buck was scratched from Monday's lineup due to illness. Originally scheduled to catch Sunday and Monday, Buck has not taken the field since Friday.
His illness has afforded top prospect Travis d'Arnaud plenty of playing time during what could be his final days in camp. d'Arnaud, who has appeared in three of the Mets' past four Grapefruit League games, successfully tagged out a runner at home in the fourth inning, despite the Mets' recent instruction that he should avoid blocking the plate to steer clear of injury.
The play was "instinctual," d'Arnaud said.
"That's how you do it," manager Terry Collins said. "He was out in front of the plate when he got the ball, and then he moved in to protect himself. That's the best way to do it."
The Mets will demote d'Arnaud to Minor League camp any day now, allowing him to settle in with his Triple-A Las Vegas teammates before the end of spring. Buck and Anthony Recker are in line to break camp with the team as catchers, leaving d'Arnaud and Landon Powell to play in Vegas.
That is no knock on d'Arnaud; it was simply the organization's plan for him from the start. The Mets anticipate d'Arnaud quickly returning to the Majors, sticking there once he does.
"Everything that everybody said about him, the fact that he's catching a lot, I've seen great improvement behind the plate," Collins said. "And we know he can hit."
Mets partner with Hyundai for premium seating
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Mets announced a multi-year partnership with Hyundai on Monday for naming rights to the Hyundai Club, the only all-inclusive premium seating area at Citi Field.
Formerly known as the Champions Club, the Hyundai Club is a 660-seat area located on the field level behind home plate. The all-inclusive gourmet buffet includes a daily chef selection of carved meats and pasta, as well as unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, peanuts, popcorn, cookies and ice cream.
"We are proud to grow our relationship with Hyundai to including branding rights for one of the premiere seating locations at Citi Field," Mets executive vice president of business operations Dave Howard said in a statement. "Hyundai is the latest partner to join us for what will be an exciting All-Star season for Mets fans."