Matt Harrison Struggles Possibly Opening Door for Tommy Hunter


After the second straight terrible outing for Matt Harrison on Sunday afternoon, Tommy Hunter, who was supposed to be in the starting rotation, sustained a groin injury just before the end of spring training and just hours after being named in the Rangers’ 2011 starting rotation, might not be fighting for a spot when he returns or finding himself in the bullpen. Instead, he may have the No. 3 starting spot given to him.

Harrison was supposedly is a better place this time in the Majors as compared to his other appearances when he started in the Bigs but found his way back down to the Minors. Harrison had supposedly gotten his act together and was better able to focus on the game when he messed up, but based off his last two outings, I’d say he has lost his mental focus. If he doesn’t get it back, his spot is likely to go to Tommy Hunter when he returns from the DL.

The 25-year-old left-hander is 3-3 for the season with a now 4.59 ERA, which started at 1.29 after his first outing. In his first outing in which he struggled against the Toronto Blue Jays, he pitched for three innings allowing seven earned runs on eight hits and walked three batters. From his fourth start to this fifth start against Toronto, his ERA jumped from 1.88 to 3.69. After his last outing against the Oakland A’s, his ERA jumped up to 4.59 after allowing four earned runs on six hits while walking two over the course of 1.2 innings.

This is what Rangers GM Jon Daniels had to say after Monday’s game on Rangers Insider, which is broadcast on 103.3 FM ESPN:

“I think the reality is that when you’ve got young pitching, there are going to be some ups and downs. I think the challenge for Matt and the challenge for all our guys is to manage the downs if you will. There are going to be times when he doesn’t have his best command, doesn’t have his best stuff. He needs to fight and keep us in the game. We have faith that he’ll do just that.”

I personally like Harrison. He has true potential behind his youth. He just needs to find the faith inside himself and know that he can succeed. He needs to get back to where he was in his first three games of the season in which he allowed just one run in each of those three games on no more than two hits. In his first outing against the Red Sox, he struck out eight batters and followed with three in his next two appearances against the Orioles and the Yankees and then five against the Angels.

If Daniels and Ron Washington continue to see more downs than ups, his time in the starting rotation may be up sooner rather than later. Let’s hope that he has everything together by his next scheduled start, which is against the Yankees on Friday, and can defeat them to start the series off with a win yet again.