Another big headline during the MLB Winter Meetings this year was the Washington Nationals grabbing starting pitcher Dan Haren. The Nats signed him to a one-year deal worth $13 million dollars. The move will end Washington’s long awaited search for a veteran pitcher that has previously included the likes of Edwin Jackson and Livan Hernandez.
Haren walks into an already loaded rotation in the nation’s capital. He is slotted to be the fourth starter in the Nats’ rotation led by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and anchored by Ross Detwiller.
The right-handed pitcher is now 32-years-old and had a very disappointing 2012 season with the Los Angeles Angels. He ended the year with a 12-13 record and a very unflattering 4.33 ERA, which was his worst season since 2004 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He also only registered 142 strikeouts in 176.2 innings pitched; both of which were his worst totals ever in a MLB season in which he started at least 30 games. Last year was one of Harden’s worst all-around fantasy baseball seasons to date, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Haren is still a three-time All-Star and even though he may be the team’s fourth starter, he can certainly become a leader in the rotation. He won’t be asked to go out there and win 20-plus games, so the lack of pressure could help him relax and post much better fantasy baseball numbers. He will finally be able to simply relax, pitch every fifth day, and hammer the strike zone.
The California native is trying to come back from serious back and hip injuries, so his 2013 season is somewhat of a question mark. However, considering his current draft position, which is well after the tenth round, this veteran could end up being one of the steals of the entire draft.
Haren will be a great mid-level fantasy starter this season. Many people will be sleeping on him simply because of his injury issues and the move to a new team, but do not shy away from this fireballer. He should easily win 15 games this season and bring his ERA back down under 4.00.