The Dodgers go for a league leading 14th win. Spoiler: They do not succeed.
Much of any team’s success is dependent on the back end of the rotation, so while we justly praise players like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels (All on the same team? Really?) the reality is you still need about 70 starts and 350+ innings from guys who aren’t ever going to be on the cover of Sports illustrated.
L.A. sent just such a fellow to the mound against the Braves, in the form of Aaron Harang. Harang has had several good seasons in the majors since his first full year with Cincinatti in 2004. Last year in San Diego, helped notably by the home turf of Petco, was one of these, but he hasn’t been a top-quality starter since the mid 2000’s. Here are his numbers during his three best years in the majors.
Especially notable is the strikeout to walk ratio, an exceptional 4-1 in 2007. He’s never been the same pitcher since, but he still has some ability to punch guys out. In a baseball sense, of course, though I suppose these are not mutually exclusive having never encountered Mr. harang in a non-baseball way. Anyway, recently he struck out 13 batters in less than 7 innings of work, including 9 in a row, a Dodgers record.
He pitched pretty well on this night,the big blow being a wild pitch that was really a passed ball, but all the signs are there that he is, at the most optimistic, a fifth starter in the league now. In four starts, his WHIP (walks + IP) is just over 1.6, which is pretty awful, and he’s averaging less than 6 innings per outing, which puts a strain on the bullpen as summer rolls along. One can’t help but wonder if he’ll be able to provide L.A. enough quality innings to stay in front of San Francisco, Arizona and Colorado as the season wears on.