(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Mets welcome back Matt Harvey Thursday afternoon when they close out their season-opening three-game series with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
Just months after starting the All-Star Game for the National League in 2013, Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2014. The hard-throwing righty was 9-5 at the time of his injury and has pitched to a 2.39 ERA in 36 big league starts.
Harvey comes into this season with high hopes after an impressive spring that saw him register a 1.19 ERA and 21/1 K/BB in 22 2/3 total Grapefruit League innings.
"Looking back, I'm obviously pretty pleased with how (the recovery) went," Harvey told MLB's official website. "Everything felt good from Day 1. I'm happy with how (spring training) ended and obviously ready for the season."
The 26-year-old has faced the Nationals four times and is 1-1, while allowing just three earned runs in 27 innings pitched.
Washington, meanwhile, will counter with an impressive young hurler of its own in righty Stephen Strasburg, who is coming off a year that he finally reached the 200-inning plateau and finished tied for fifth in the majors with 242 strikeouts.
Like Harvey, Strasburg once had the weight of an entire franchise on his shoulders. Strasburg is almost overlooked in a loaded Nationals' rotation, but the 26-year-old hurler has yet hit his prime and is coming off his most consistent season yet, as he went 14-11 with a 3.14 ERA in 2014.
Strasburg is 3-1 in six starts versus the Mets with a 2.19 ERA.
Washington bounced back from a loss on Opening Day on Wednesday, as Jordan Zimmermann gave up just one run over six innings and Ryan Zimmerman provided the offense with a two-run homer in the Nats' a 2-1 win.
Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (0-1) was effective in defeat, finishing with two runs allowed on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings.
"I got it in where I wanted it, and he just put a good swing on it," deGrom said of Zimmerman's homer.
The Nationals won 15 of their 19 meetings with the Mets a season ago, going 6-3 at home.