Game 152, Rangers at Mariners
Felix Hernandez vs. Matt Harrison, 1:10pm
Happy Felix Day!
The rubber match of this game series features the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, a lefty with a plus fastball, a curve, change and cutter. Harrison’s the latest in a string of Ranger players to suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome, in which the nerves leading from the arm (or the subclavian artery/vein) are compressed by the rib and collar bone leading to numbness and pain. Like Kenny Rogers, Hank Blalock and others, Harrison had his first rib removed in 2009. And, like Rogers, when he came back, he’s had noticeably better velocity. He averaged around 91 before the surgery, and he’s up to 93 now.
He came back in 2010, and while his velocity was better, his command was terrible – his K% was 12.9% and his BB% was 11%. This year, he’s greatly improved his walk rate, and that’s helped him post a 3.64 FIP and 3.4 WAR so far. He’s still not a guy who misses a lot of bats; he’s got a below-average contact rate and swinging-strike rate. But he’s got enough stuff that he’s not just grooving fastballs. His two-seamer and change-up help him post solid GB rates (and keep his HRs under control). Add it up, and he’s an exceptional 3rd starter by pretty much any metric you want to look at.
Felix is better, though.
2: Rodriguez (SS)
6: Pena (DH)