The Texas Rangers starting rotation desperately needs a shot in the arm soon, but don’t expected it to be left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison. Harrison has historically been one of the Rangers’ best pitchers and was a big part of helping them to the postseason the past couple of years.
When spring training started it seemed likely Matt Harrison would be in the Opening day rotation. But due to a bad mattress Harrison had to leave camp to visit a doctor in Dallas. Luckily all of the test results showed no structural damage and he was able to return to spring training. Because he had to fly back to Dallas, wait to see the doctor, fly back and by that time he had lost valuable time in camp to prepare for the season.
After that setback, Harrison is likely about 2-3 weeks behind the other pitchers that were in camp. After his start in the exhibition game against the Houston Astros where he allowed 5 hits and 4 runs it seemed he is more than likely 3-4 weeks behind. Although, some of those runs in the Alamodome were because of the short 271 feet wall in right. But Harrison did look a bit off during his three innings of work.
After the game, Washington didn’t seem to concerned that Harrison allowed 3 runs, he did comment that 2 of the home runs probably wouldn’t have gone out in a major league park.
The Texas Rangers will have him playing for the Double-A Frisco Rough Riders on Thursday. That will be the Rough Riders home opener when they play against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. I would doubt this is his last start for the Rough Riders, but it is possible he’ll get some time with the Round Rock Express also. In order to properly prepare Harrison for a solid return, he’ll need to get in a setting where he is able to pitch on a regular 5-day schedule. Also, Jon Daniels has said he wants him to be able to get his pitch count to 100 before he’ll be in the Rangers rotation.
So when will Harrison return? More than likely it would be late April or early May. In my opinion, with no setbacks, he’ll return in early to mid-May. I think after another start or two, Harrison will start to look like the Harrison all Texas Rangers fans remember, but it will take a few games to get his rhythm, control, velocity and pitch count where they need to be. If they Rangers are able to get him back by that time, that will allow either Robbie Ross or Tanner Scheppers to go back to the bullpen. Hopefully everything works out as planned, the Rangers could really use a 2012 Matt Harrison.