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