When Matt Harrison made his last start, it was a start typical of what Harrison has delivered this season — efficiency, effectiveness and overall quality.
Harrison went five innings against the Colorado Rockies, not allowing a run on five singles before having to leave the game with some lower back pain. He relied on his bullpen to finish off the game, which they did, giving Harrison is AL-leading 10th win of the season.
That set off a string of nights in which the "winning pieces" of the Rangers' bullpen had to be used in leverage situations, and now they need a break.
Harrison is fulfilling his promise of not missing a start due to his back problems, as the 10-3 lefty will start tonight against the Oakland A's, and this time around he'll look to give his bullpen a bit more of a break than he did in his last time out.
Since that start against Colorado on Sunday, here's the workload of the "winning pieces" over the past week, courtesy of my Rangers sensei, Jamey Newberg (@NewbergReport):
Nathan: 32 pitches on Sunday, Monday off, 13 pitches on Tuesday, 14 pitches on Wednesday, 21 pitches on Thursday (shaky command)
Adams: 18 pitches on Sunday, Monday off, 26 pitches on Tuesday, 12 pitches on Wednesday, 23 pitches on Thursday (shaky command)
Ross: 24 pitches on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off, 17 pitches on Wednesday, 8 pitches on Thursday
That's a lot of work. And with no off-day until Monday, obviously, one or more of those guys is going to have to be unavailable very soon, as early as tonight. It's highly unlikely Nathan, with his injury history, would be asked to go on four straight days. With a Saturday "TBD" start looming, tonight might be the bullpen's best chance to get some break time, although if things go poorly Saturday it would likely be a mixture of Michael Kirkman and/or Mark Lowe and Justin Grimm/Martin Perez who'd be called upon Saturday.
If the Rangers can just get a deep start from Harrison, who's had outstanding stuff in his last few outings and is a threat to go nine innings on any given night, it would be a huge relief to the bullpen arms. If not, they might have to wait until Sunday to get a good breather when Yu Darvish takes the hill a night before the whole team will get an off-day before hitting the road.