Remember Aaron Harang? One of the journeymen starters the Tribe signed to a minor league deal this spring? After being told he would not start the season in the majors with Cleveland, Harang signed with Atlanta, jumping at a chance to round out a big league rotation. Not only has Harang filled out he Braves’ rotation in the early goings this season, the 35 year old right hander has been nothing short of dominant.
In his latest start, Harang struck out 11 and gave up just one run in over six innings of work — just another gem in a string of beautiful starts for the man who was passed over for the Indians’ rotation in favor of the struggling Carlos Carrasco. The six hits given up in Harang’s last start were the most given up in any of his five starts to begin the 2014 season. In just over 31 innings across 5 starts, the veteran has struck out just over a batter an inning and boasts an ERA nearing Blutarski territory of 0.85.
The crown jewel of Harang’s hot start came just over a week ago when the long time Cincinnati Red tossed seven no hit innings before being replaced for the 8th. Harang’s fastball still touches north of 90, which proved to be one of the Braves’ deciding factors in opting for him over Freddy Garcia to be their over the hill veteran of choice. As chronicled by Cory McCartney of Fox Sports, this is the first time since the 2010 season in which Harang has had his fastball working at that velocity, a necessity for the man who led the national league in strikeouts back in 2006 with Cincinnati.
In his time with the Tribe this spring Harang looked good throwing the ball, posting a 2.00 ERA in two starts, and picking up the win in each outing. At the time Harang’s fate with the Indians was sealed, Tribe General Manager Chris Antonetti praised the veteran for how he’d looked so far during the spring.
“Aaron has pitched really well in camp, but as we looked through how we’d configure our rotation, we’ll likely go in a another direction,” said Antonetti. “A lot can change in the next several days, but we had a decision to make on Aaron and we made it.”
Hind sight is 20/20 and small sample sizes in baseball are a big no-no, but it’s still hard to ignore the early season success of Harang. Compound Harang’s success with the dismal start of Carlos Carrasco (7.31 ERA) and Danny Salazar (7.85 ERA) and one can’t help second guess if Antonetti and Francona made the wrong decision.