Making Sense of Matt Harrison Isn't Easy - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Red Fever
Complete coverage of the Texas Rangers

Making Sense of Matt Harrison Isn't Easy



    The big headlines after Tuesday night's 4-2 win dealt with the fact that the Rangers came back to win the game in the seventh inning.

    There's good reason for that. The team was 2-29 when trailing after six innings heading into the game with the Orioles, which is the kind of history that makes it hard to think about much else when the bats come alive and win a game that many people had already written off.

    Once the dust settled, however, it was time to turn attention to Matt Harrison. He didn't figure in the decision as he was out of the game after six innings, but his start was still pretty darn interesting. In those six innings, Harrison more or less summed up his entire 2011 season.

    The box score shows that he allowed just two runs and didn't walk a batter for the first time all season. Both of those things are quite good, obviously, but it wasn't all smiles for Harrison. He also gave up 11 hits, two of which were home runs. It's laudable that Harrison was able to scatter those other nine hits well enough to avoid any other damage, but it is hardly an advisable way to go about business if you're looking for long term success.

    That's kinda been the story for Harrison all season. He's got a 3.28 ERA, averages six innings a start and has shown better control this year than in the past. He's also allowing more home runs per nine innings than the league average, has a terrible strikeout-to-walk ratio and his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) suggests that his ERA should be a run higher.

    What are we to make of a pitcher who has all the signs of being a mediocre starter while also having the results of a pitcher who belongs toward the front of the rotation?

    Harrison hasn't been particularly lucky nor has he been particularly streaky this year. He's just been a pitcher who has thrived while making things difficult for himself, something that has helped the Rangers a great deal. All of the positives are couched with the worry that Harrison's results will start to go the way of his general numbers, though.

    If that happens, the Rangers will suddenly find themselves with another problem on a pitching staff that already has enough on its plate. At the risk of suggesting they fix something that's not exactly broken, it would behoove the Rangers to continue being open to upgrading the rotation even if it means that Harrison gets pushed further down the totem pole than you might expect at this point in the year.