A day after giving up a career high seven walks and six runs in just four innings, Cincinnati Reds ace Aaron Harang is due to have an MRI on his throwing arm today, and Dusty Baker is absolutely perplexed.
"He didn't say anything. There were some balls in one inning in the 90s, then the next inning they'd be in the mid-80's. I don't know. This is puzzling. This has gone on quite a while. I just don't have an answer."
Well Dusty, let's revisit Harang's year, shall we? Prior to May 25th, Harang was 2-6 with a 3.50 ERA. He was pitching well for a crappy team. On May 25th, the Reds played that 18-inning game in San Diego and Dusty sent Aaron in for FOUR innings and SIXTY-THREE pitches on just TWO days rest. In the eight starts since that game (which the Reds lost, natch) Harang is 1-5 with a 7.31 ERA.
Kid had been the best pitcher in Cincinnati for the past couple years, going 32-17 with an ERA of 3.75. I'm not saying that the Dusty Baker hire is the reason that Harang has seen his ERA increase by over a run this year, but I'm not ruling it out either. Harang had missed last Saturday's start against Washington due to soreness in his elbow and yet Baker saw it fit to keep him in the game for 108 pitches.
Harang has been an extremely durable pitcher in his short career, averaging nearly 108 pitches across his 33 starts last season. But obviously, something's amiss now, and perhaps the best idea would have been to send him for an MRI before taxing the arm for 108 pitches. Baseball Prospectus measures "Pitcher Abuse Points" (subscription req'd) and four of the 25 most abused NL pitchers are Reds. Aaron Harang is number seven on the list. Granted, PAPs don't necessarily indicate that a pitcher's arm is in danger, but it's not at all surprising to see 80% of the Reds rotation at the top of this list.
So Dusty, next time a pitcher complains about arm soreness, send him down the hall to the nurse's office and at least get the kid a lolly.
Thanks to erudite reader Mike L. for sending this gem our way.