Saturday, April 16, 2011


One of the more interesting surprises as far as starting pitching is concerned two weeks in to the fantasy baseball season is the job that the Texas Rangers' Matt Harrison has done through three starts.  Harrison continues his impressive beginning to his season on Friday night when he held the high powered Yankees in check by tossing 8 innings of 7 hit/1 ER ball.  This one the heels of a 5-hit/1 ER outing against Boston and a 2 hit/1 ER domination against Baltimore.  So clearly Harrison doesn't fear big time hitting lineup and the fact he was able to tame two of the best in the games in New York and Boston adds even more intrigue to what is shaping up as a very nice campaign.  So now is the perfect time to dig in a big deeper here and find out more about Harrison the pitcher and what he may be able to offer as we continue along through the season.

Looking at Matt Harrison's history in the major leagues, its fair to say that he has not been impressive to say the least.  his best season ERA in three previous years was the 4.71 ERA with Texas last season and much of that was spent in the bullpen.  In fact going back to when he was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the third round of the 2003 draft, Harrison was never mentioned as anything close to a premier prospect and basically was looked at as a back-of-the rotation guy.  The primary reason for this likely had to do with the fact Harrison was a control pitcher who didn't give much in terms of strikeouts.  Now of course in fantasy baseball strikeouts are what gets the juices flowing when evaluating pitchers but its clear that Harrison wont be much help there outside of the occasional 7 or 8 K game. 

Looking into the rest of the repertoire, Harrison has been pretty hittable throughout his time in the majors and so that leaves me a bit skeptical about his early season success, even if came against big time AL East batting orders.  He does limit the walks however and so Harrison is a guy who profiles as someone who will get by on hitting his spots and not by beating himself.  The lack of K's though could be trouble in that ballpark of his and some ugly games are sure to be in the offing as well.  If Harrison were pitching in the NL, he would be a much more attractive option for me but a guy with his profile in the AL is a risky bet long-term.  Sure you can ride the hot streak and see where it goes but as soon as the tread starts coming off the tires, you are going to want to trade him in for sure. 

All in all I am impressed so far with what Harrison has done but I wouldn't recommend adding him outside of AL-only or deep mixed leagues.  The lack of K's is the big reason there and I think things will start evening out as we go through the meat of the season.

2011 PROJECTION:  14-10 4.32 ERA 127 K 1.28 WHIP

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