Aaron Harang took the hill for the first time on Monday after being a late scratch last Wednesday due to lower back soreness. A free agent signee who the Phillies hoped would slide into the middle of their starting rotation, Harang allowed no runs over two innings despite giving up 3 hits and 2 walks.
After a strong season with Atlanta in 2014 that included a 12-12 record and 3.57 ERA over 204.1 innings, the Phillies were able to lure him with a one-year, $5-million deal. Harang has pitched in the majors for seven teams and collected 122 wins with a 4.21 ERA and 1,734 strikeouts.
“Today was just about getting out there, throwing some pitches and seeing how everything is. My arm felt great.” ~ Harang
The Phillies are looking for exactly what he gave the Braves last year. They brought him into the fold as an innings-eater, and to save a few youngsters like Jesse Biddle and Adam Morgan from being rushed to the big leagues before they are ready.
Harang could also be an excellent trade chip at this year’s deadline for a contender looking to shore-up their own rotation with a solid veteran pitcher. If he is pitching well, Harang could net the Phils a few pieces similar to what they received for Roberto Hernandez last summer.
Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal reported via twitter that Harang was all over the strike zone at first, and benefited nicely from a double play to get out of 1st inning trouble.
Harang offered some perspective on his troubles when speaking to the media, however; stating in a Jim Salisbury report, “Today was just about getting out there, throwing some pitches and seeing how everything is. My arm felt great. I was missing with my fastball to lefties, but that’s all. You get out there for the first time with a crowd, the adrenaline gets going and sometimes you rush a little.”
With the Cliff Lee news breaking, the Phillies have to be considered as desperate for Harang to bring much-needed stability to the rotation. Anticipating his next start this coming weekend, the Phils will be looking for an even more promising outing from the 13-year veteran.