Rich Harden: Has he matched the hype?

Let’s take a mid-"half "-season look at Rich Harden since he’s been acquired by the Cubs and see how much he’s helped the team. 

Looking at the Stats

Ok, first the easy stats:  Since coming to the Northside, Harden has been 4-1 with a nifty 1.50 ERA in 9 starts for the Cubs.  Not bad at all.  Actually very good and probably more than we Cub fans could expect. 

Looking at his K/BB ratio, it gets even better.  Harden has struck out 75 batters in 54 innings.  In five games, he has KOed more than 10.  On the other hand he’s done his best to keep the runners off the bases.  He’s walked only 18 in the same period.  Only twice he has walked more than three (today was one of them when he walked four Philles).  Oh, one HBP and two wild pitches for those keeping score.

The most interesting about Harden’s stats is this:  He has given up six homeruns so far with the Cubs yet only allowed 10 runs.  I thought surely he must be giving up only solo shots.  I checked his gamelog and sure enough he has only given up one homer with a baserunner on (a one-run home run to Geoff Blum of Houston on August 5). 

Endurance?

One concern regarding Harden was his endurance and that isn’t totally unfounded.  But I think all thinking Cub Fans didn’t expect Rich Harden to go out there and pitch nine innings every time.  And well, he isn’t.  Do the math.  He’s averaging an even six innings per start which to be honest is almost better than what I expected.  He almost established a pattern of pitching 5, then 7, then 5, then 7 again etc. 

Run Support

The most frustrating thing about Harden is something that is really not in his control.  Run support.  That was evidenced in today’s game against Philadelphia when the Cubs could only give Harden one offensive run while he held the Phils to 2 runs (one earned).  Fortunately, the bullpen held while the offense came alive and the good guys won 3-2. 

That wasn’t the case earlier in the season when we first got Harden.   In Harden’s second and third starts for the Cubs, he allowed one run each in seven and five innings respectively, only to have the Cubs lose both games due to lack of run support (Harden got the loss in the second). 

Since then (today’s game notwithstanding) the run support has gotten better and the Cubs won the next 5 games that Harden started. 

Is Rich Harden the next ’84 Rick Sutcliffe?   Maybe not.  But boy, I don’t want to think where we’d be without him.

Go Cubs!

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