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Harang allowed a ton of runners to reach base in his first season in Los Angeles. Will he improve in 2013, and will he do it with the Dodgers?
We have reached the first off day of spring training, which is a welcome relief for many. But for Aaron Harang, he doesn't rest on Monday. It is his turn to pitch, so he is at Camelback Ranch and will throw to minor league hitters for three innings to stay on schedule.
Harang is one of eight starting pitchers under contract to the Dodgers for 2013, and if everyone is healthy he is likely seventh or eighth on the depth chart. Factor in that manager Don Mattingly said last week that he didn't really see Harang fitting in a relief role, and it's clear that for Harang this spring it's rotation or bust.
Here is what I wrote back in October about Harang's first season in Los Angeles:
What went right: Harang made 31 starts and pitched in 179⅔ innings, his most since 2008. He put up a 105 ERA+, his highest mark since 2007. Like Capuano, Harang was a bargain at just $3 million in the first season of a two-year deal and put up a respectable 3.61 ERA. He set a new Dodgers franchise record with nine consecutive strikeouts, part of a 13-strikeout effort against the Padres on Apr. 13.
What went wrong: Harang allowed 256 batters to reach base via hit, walk, or hit by pitch, and his 1.403 WHIP was fourth worst among qualified NL starters. Harang's 85 walks were 27 more than he had ever issued in one season. He had just 15 strikeouts and 17 walks in his final six starts.
Before every start, Harang puts nine pieces of gum in his jacket pocket. He said last year that he chews one piece each inning, and he always plans to pitch nine innings. Harang has gone his last 93 starts since his last complete game, and it has been nearly four years that he pitched nine innings in a game.
Harang made five opening day starts for the Reds from 2006-2010, tying him with Josh Beckett for most opening day starts on the current Dodgers staff. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to start his third opening day on Apr. 1, while Ted Lilly and Zack Greinke have each started once on opening day.
Harang will make $7 million in 2013 in the second season of a two-year contract. He also has a club option for between $7 million and $8 million that could vest with between 180⅓ and 220⅓ innings pitched this season. If the option doesn't vest, the Dodgers can buy it out for $2 million.
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There is still a long way to go in spring training, but I think Harang finds himself on the outside looking in for a rotation spot, and my guess is that he doesn't pitch a single inning for the Dodgers this season.
Be sure to guess how you think Harang will perform for the Dodgers in 2013. Include ERA and whatever else you wish to guess.