Matt Harrison doesn't strike anyone as an ace. Even compared to the Texas Rangers' "ace" from a year ago, C.J. Wilson, he just doesn't have that quality. Perhaps it's because he isn't a high strikeout total pitcher and just gets lots of groundballs, or maybe it's his unassuming personality. Whatever the case, when you think of top-flight starting pitchers in the American League, you don't think about Matt Harrison.
But think again.
The soft-spoken lefty, who was acquired in that epic trade for Mark Teixeira when the Rangers got Harrison, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for their diva slugger, has put up quite a season this year. And he's about to put up a historic season, at least personally speaking.
With a win on Friday, Harrison will push his win total for 2012 to 15, which would set a new career-best mark. A couple more starts like his one on Sunday (8 IP, 2 ER) and he could easily see his 3.19 ERA drop into the 2.00s.
Imagine if Harrison was a 20-game winner. Wow. No one would have expected that, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Likely? No. That would take him winning six more times with a likely eight starts remaining in the season. But the way the Rangers' offense is starting to turn with Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre leading the way, along with Mitch Moreland, it's certainly possible.
Is Harrison an ace? No. Is he the best option for the Rangers to start Games 1 and 5 of a playoff series? Yes.