Should the Cincinnati Reds be Concerned about Starting Pitcher Aaron Harang?

Matt DavidCorrespondent IIMarch 26, 2010

GOODYEAR, AZ - MARCH 09:  Aaron Harang #39 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches during a Spring Training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 9, 2010 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images


Listed below, are the points and counterpoints that Aaron Harang supporters and critics can have regarding his prospects for the upcoming season:

Point: Yes, something is wrong.

Counterpoint: No, Aaron Harang will be back to his former self in 2010.

P: Something is wrong with his mechanics.

CP: What is this based on?

P: Harang has been tinkering with his mechanics over the past few years. He needs to get back to what was working.

CP: Last August, he was shut down after he had an appendectomy. At that point, he was on pace for 200+ IP with an ERA+ of 102. While that is not Cy Young Award—caliber numbers, but they are decent.

P: He gave up a lot of hits last year. His WHIP was 1.41.

CP: His 4.21 ERA is what you should expect out of him. Not to mention, he only walked 43 batters.

P: Over the last two years, his record is 12—31.

CP: Don't judge him by his win count.

P: Why?

CP: There are many better ways by which to judge a pitcher. Wins are largely determined by run support. A pitcher can give up 8 runs and get a win. On the flip side, he can give up one run and get a loss.

P: I realize that he has had poor run support in the past two years.

CP: He had 16 starts where he and his defense gave up three or fewer runs. He would have a few more wins if his team would have scored.

P: More runs would have helped.

CP: Harang is the type of pitcher who usually pitches long enough in to the game to earn the decision, one way or the other.

P: Something happened in 2008 that caused him to get much worse.

CP: Like what?

P: Could it be the game in 2008 when Harang threw 63 pitches in relief then made his next start?

CP: That certainly seems like poor judgement in retrospect.

P: It sure does. His production was going down before that outing, also.

CP: His numbers were still pretty good last year.

P: Since 2008, his K/9 has gone down and his BB/9 has gone up.

CP: His velocity is still there. He has always thrown around 90 MPH, which is what he averaged last year.

P: He has that but that nasty slider is gone.

CP: He may have lost some movement on it.

P: You got that right. It seems likely that he made a change in his mechanics in 2008 that has brought on the drop in effectiveness we are now seeing.

CP: The slider is the type of pitch that is either effective or not. If it isn't thrown correctly it ends up in the seats.

P: That could explain his HR/9 going up.

CP: It could be the problem.

P: He has talked about shortening his stride since that San Diego outing.

CP: Pitchers tinker with their mechanics from time—to—time.

P: Harang isn't really an ace on a good team.

CP: I agree with that. It is unreasonable to expect ace—like numbers.

P: Good, because he won't deliver it.

CP: If he can put up a 4.25 ERA and throw around 200 innings, the Reds will take it. That production takes the load off those promising young arms.

P: He's got one year left on his contract. I think his numbers will sink even lower. The Reds have to be hoping that he can pitch well in July. They could then trade him for a prospect.

CP: I expect Harang to put up what he always does.

P: Maybe Harang's success was an illusion. Maybe in 2006 and 2007 he was getting by on smoke and mirrors.

CP: Yeah, that makes sense. He was using magic. Good one.

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