Matt Harrison: Back from hiatus

Tom Pennington

The Rangers pitcher missed basically all of 2013 with injury, but before that he had value. That shouldn't have changed.

As I write this sentence, it is 10:53 p.m. on Tuesday night. I got home from work at 6:30 hoping to knock this piece quickly, because I'm way behind on sleep and a whole host of other reasons. I decided to write about Matt Harrison by, like, 7:15. And yet, if you paid attention, that "it's 10:53 p.m." sentence was the first sentence in this thing.

I tried a few different quasi-funny, semi-creative ledes, but I didn't like them. And now seven minutes have passed, and it's full on 11 p.m., and I have a 10-hour day tomorrow. So the heck with it, I'm getting to the point, and I'm writing about Matt Harrison.

Here's the thing about Harrison two years ago, in 2012 - he won 18 games, made the All-Star team, and finished eighth in Cy Young voting. That was all fairly ridiculous, as his 3.29 ERA came alongside a 4.03 FIP, and he struck out only 5.6 guys per nine innings. Still, it was 213.1 innings with two shutouts and a 1.26 WHIP. His HR/9 rate was in line with his career, etc. In short, he was reasonably good, but not for the surface reasons some thought.

People knew to be hesitant of Harrison entering 2013. Sports Illustrated had him 175th overall, hanging out with Jarrod Parker, Jeff Samardzija, and Jonathon Niese. (Incidentally, Carlos Gomez was 178th, which tells you how much else changed over the last year.) After only two starts last year, though - 0-2 record, 5.20 ERA, 21 baserunners in 10.2 innings - Harrison missed the rest of the year, and all of this season so far, to injury.

Harrison has been rehabbing at Triple-A Round Rock, but joined the Rangers on the team's current road trip, and it looks like he'll make his season debut Monday night against Oakland.

So Matt Harrison, guy who was ranked near the Samardzijas and Parkers of the world a year ago, who won 18 games with a 3.29 ERA in his last season, is making his 2014 debut in less than a week. And he's owned in 3 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

Now, like I said, "18 and 3.29!" is misleading, and anyone who picks Harrison up for the long haul shouldn't view him as a guy who might win you the league. He's no Yu Darvish. But a guy on a good team putting up a mid-to-high 3.00s ERA with a WHIP in the 1.2 range, even if he is only middling in strikeouts, is more than a 3-percent-ownership guy.

Guys in the Top 100 of starting pitchers on ESPN's player rater include names like Wade Davis - not even a starter - Roenis Elias, Brett Oberholtzer, and Lefty Camille (I only made one of those names up, and I bet I had some of you going for a minute). Sure, it's early, and drawing any conclusions at all from a Top 100 on April 22 is kinda silly. Still, assuming Harrison comes back and stays there - and that seems likely right now - he's going to come in in the, what, top 50 or 60 starters? Maybe that's bold, but not by much.

No, Harrison isn't going to win you your league. (Well, probably not; as a Rangers fan, I'm hoping super hard that he comes out and throws nine perfect games this season, in which case yes, he will win you your league.) But still, dude's 3 percent owned, and all that has changed since he was a top-40 starter is a season of injury that he now appears healed from.

In my deeper leagues, I'm still stuck with guys like Phil Hughes (ugh), Tanner Scheppers (ugghhh), and Felipe Paulino (UGGGGHHHHH) floating around on rosters. If you are in a similar situation in any leagues, and Harrison is available, he's an obvious point of upgrade.

And on that note, it is now 11:49 p.m., and I have made my point. It is perhaps not the best column I have ever written in this space, but it is the best Matt Harrison point I have ever made in this space, and that's ... valuable? I don't know. But if you trust me, trust my argument.

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