Philadelphia, PA – Let's be honest. It hasn't been easy to be a fan of the New York Mets.
While the ownership became a punch line during the Bernie Madoff mess, the on- field product devolved into just as big of a joke. Let's put it this way; it's a good thing the Miami Marlins call the National League East home.
But, on Tuesday the Mets may have offered a glimpse into what the future holds, as their Dynamic Duo of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were on full display in a doubleheader sweep of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.
"I saw some big things, obviously, out of those two guys, and I just hope, not only you guys that were here to see it, but people saw it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They're going to enjoy watching these two young guys for a long time. They're going to be around, and they're going to be in the same rotation. You got two guys that can win some baseball games for you."
If you don't know how good Harvey is by now, you've probably haven't paid much attention. He's been about as dominant as any pitcher in the league and that's probably not even doing him justice.
On Tuesday, though, he served as the undercard to Wheeler, who was making his major league debut in the nightcap of the twinbill with the Braves. With no disrespect to how great Harvey has been, Wheeler's start was a day Mets fans had been clamoring for since they dealt Carlos Beltran to San Francisco back in 2011.
And Wheeler didn't disappoint.
The 23-year-old former first-round pick allowed four hits over six scoreless innings to win his MLB debut. The sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Giants, Wheeler had his fastball up in the mid 90s and fanned seven, but walked five.
"It was definitely an experience," he said. "I had some jitters going at first. Then I settled down a little bit, probably the fourth or fifth inning. I just found a rhythm and I was able to throw my pitches for strikes. That definitely helped me out."
But as good as Wheeler may have been, he was nowhere near as dominant as Harvey was.
The Mets' other first-round flamethrower flirted with a no-hitter, as has been his wont this season, and struck out a career-high 13 over seven-plus innings.
"It's definitely one of those games where I thought (a no-hitter) was possible a little bit more than the other ones," said Harvey, who has taken three no- hit bids into the seventh already this season. "I was striking out a lot of guys, and they weren't putting the ball in the outfield too often. Anytime that's going on, you think in the back of your mind that this is possible."
Although, it looked as if the 24-year-old was headed for another no-decision late in that contest.
After leaving with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth, the Mets' bullpen allowed all three of his inherited runners to score before closer Bobby Parnell struck out Chris Johnson to end the threat.
So, it may have turned into a one-run game, but it didn't take away from just how electric Harvey was. He struck out six straight batters at one point and even touched 100 mph on the radar gun a few times.
"Now with Zack here and all the publicity -- let's face it, (Harvey) is the guy," Collins said. "He's the guy here. And with all the attention to Zack, he might have said, 'I'm still the guy here.'"
As good as Harvey has been, he's only 6-1, but has pitched to a 2.16 ERA. Of course, he's also endured five no-decisions of having allowed two runs or less, not to mention his lone loss, which came despite him surrendering only one run in seven innings.
His frustration started to boil over a bit two starts ago when he suffered his first loss.
"Today I needed to go out and put up zeros and I wasn't able to do that," said Harvey after his June 13 setback to the St. Louis Cardinals. "If I go seven zeros, then we're still playing the ballgame and have a better chance of winning. Obviously, I'm not happy about losing. I don't like losing even if I don't pitch."
While it's nice on days like Tuesday to be so flush with young starting pitching, you have to score some runs at some point. The Mets rank near the bottom of the league in that category and with a lineup that features the likes of Colin Cowgill, Juan Lagares, Omar Quintanilla, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwehhuis or anyone else not named David Wright, that figures to be the case for the forseeable future.
There appear to be a few more pitchers down the pipeline for the Mets. The same can't be said about the offense, which is pretty bare. In fact it's nonexistent. If there was anyone down there at any level worth watching, they'd be here.
And for those of you waiting for Ike Davis to snap out of it at Triple-A, keep waiting, he's only hitting .207.
That lack of offense may trigger the conversation at some point that one of those big arms has to go. In fact there's already been rumors the Mets have investigated a deal for Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton with Wheeler as a centerpiece.
Well, you didn't think Matt Harvey would be the guy to go, did you?
But that's a conversation for down the road. Most likely long down the road.
Let Mets fans enjoy this for the moment. There haven't been many days in the last few years that they have been able to stick out their chests, but if Tuesday was any indication, those days are going to become the norm real soon.