Ace in the hole?

We'll take a look at Lurch's first start of 2009.

We'll take a look at Lurch's first start of 2009.

It’s just one start, but Aaron Harang looked pretty good today against a tough Met’s lineup.

The 6’7″ Cincinnati righty worked 5 innings of one run ball, striking out two and walking three. In the fifth inning, he left a tailing two-seamer down the middle of the plate to Met’s rookie Daniel Murphy who took the pitch into the rightfield bleachers. It was his only real mistake in an otherwise solid start.

His stuff was working. His fastball sat right at 90 mph or so, his change at 81, and his slider was moving nicely. He got into some trouble in the third, but managed to escape thanks to an Alex Gonzalez diving stop. Harang displayed his usual durability by tossing over 100 pitches, but in this game he was far from economical, wasting eight pitches on Johan Santana at one point. I’m also not encouraged by the three walks and only two strikeouts. Last year, Harang’s K/9 decreased while his BB/9 and WHIP increased, scary trends for a guy who doesn’t have overwhelming stuff. Analysts have been saying that a lot of Harang’s troubles last year were based on an elbow injury and bad luck, but with indicators like that heading the wrong direction, I’m not buying.

Pay attention to Harang’s next start against either Pittsburgh or Milwaukee. If he pitches solidly, I would not hesitate trying to get him for cheap from an owner who may not feel so good owning him after 2008. If you jump on Harang early enough, he could be an excellent value for very little.

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