What should the Ranger's expect from Rich Harden in his first start as a Ranger?

Opening day is out of the way and the Rangers already have a win in the win-loss column, today is an off day, but tomorrow the Rangers will send Rich Harden to the hill to face Brian Tallet.  Harden’s acquisition over the off season was quite affordable at $6.5 million for one year with a mutual option for 2011. 

Last season for the Cubs in 26 starts, he went 9-9 with a 4.09 era.  He began his career with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to the Cubs in July 2008.  He was the highlight of that trade which included six players in the transaction.  He has the ability to be a top of the rotation starter if he can stay healthy.   Even after a down year for him last season with the Cubs, he came to the Rangers in 2010 for an affordable price and a high upside. 

In spring training Harden went 1-3 with a 8.87 era in 6 games.  Granted this doesn’t seem like great numbers, but the Rangers also finished with 10-19 record in spring training and they seemed to be able to score runs when they needed it most in yesterdays thrilling walk off win against the Blue Jays. 

Harden owns a 50-29 record in his career over parts of 7 seasons.  Even though he has only started 127 games, that is a .633 winning percentage which is pretty impressive for a starting pitcher.  He also own a 3.39 career era, which also is not too bad.  He has won ten games or more in three seasons.  He is a very effective pitcher if he can avoid the injury bug. 

In yesterdays game, Feldman allowed three runs, which was not too bad for an opening day start.  The Rangers were held off the board until the bats of Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, and Jarrod Saltlamacchia were able to push some runs across and win the games. 

So the Rangers truly just need quality 6 inning starts from Harden, giving up 3 runs or less to be effective, because they do have the offense firepower to back him up.  If he were able to go farther into games that would be great, but the Rangers biggest strength would be that of their bullpen.

The bullpen is loaded with strong arms in Neftali Feliz, Darren O’day, Chris Ray, Darren Oliver and closer Frank Francisco.  They also have a great long man in Dustin Nippert.  So Harden needs to not try to do so much, stay healthy and contribute solid outings each time out and he should be a valuable resource to the Rangers for 2010.

The Rangers face the Blue Jays at The Ballpark in Arlington tomorrow evening with first pitch at 7:05 cst.

Tags: Brian Tallet Chris Ray Darren O'Day Darren Oliver Dustin Nippert Frank Francisco Jarrod Saltlamacchia Michael Young Neftali Feliz Rich Harden Vladimir Guerrero

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