A Baseball Weblog

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What to make of Harden?

Rich Harden is back with the Athletics, and he will take on A.J. Burnett and the Yankees this afternoon.  After beginning the year on the DL, he's made three July starts, pitching to a 5 ERA but with much better peripherals.  He's coming off of a terrible year in Arlington in which he lost his ability to strike hitters out while issuing a career high walk rate.  He's looking a lot better in his first three starts this year, but his patented changeup is not fooling hitters like it once was.  Considering the strikeout is such a huge part of Harden's game, here are the whiff rates on his two-pitch* arsenal dating back to 2008.

*he sometimes throws a two-seamer, but it's rare.  Also of note is that his changeup looks more like a traditional slider than a changeup.

Through his first three starts, the fastball is back to its 2008-2009 rate, but the changeup is still about where it was last year.  In response to the question posed as the title of this post: it's impossible to know this early in his season.  We'll need more data to determine whether the A's are getting the 2008-2009 Rich Harden or the 2010 one. 

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