Rich Harden is a streaky pitcher, and right now, he is in one of those streaks where it is clear to me that the Cubs should not re-sign him in the off-season. In Wednesday night’s loss, Harden needed 72 pitches to labor through 3 innings. Harden gave up 5 runs (only 2 earned), but he suffered his 9th loss of the season. 5 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings is never a good line, and he works way too many counts way to deep in order to be an effective pitcher over the course of a long MLB season.
In addition to this poor line, check out his last 3 starts:
Cubs 6-4 win over Reds on 9/11 – 4 innings, 1 ER, but 2 hits and 5 walks with 6 strikeouts – 104 pitches.
Cubs 5-3 win over Mets on 9/5 – 5 innings, 1 ER, but 7 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts – 102 pitches.
Cubs 5-3 loss to Astros on 8/31 – 5 innings, 5 ER, but 5 hits and 6 walks with 9 strikeouts – 98 pitches.
While his strikeout numbers are impressive – 171 K’s in 141 innings – his 67 walks and high 1.34 WHIP really don’t help him or the team in the long run. With those numbers comes high pitch counts. And with high pitch counts comes short outings. This usually means a tired bullpen and more late innings losses throughout the season because the bullpen gets over-worked too early and too often in the season.
Not having to re-sign Harden to a long-term deal should free up the $8-9 million that the Cubs paid to him in 2009. That money could be used to find another more “productive” back-end starter or for a full-time starting 2nd baseman since the Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles experiment failed miserably. Let’s just hope GM Jim Hendry hears what we’re talking about.
Couple of bright spots in last night’s loss: Aramis Ramirez hit his 13th HR of the season; Geovany Soto had 2 more hits; and Ryan Theriot had 3 hits and a walks in 5 at-bats. Not great, but not all that bad either…
Randy Wells looks to pick up win #11 in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon. His ERA is still under 3 (@ 2.96), so he looks to keep that number low as well.