Aaron Harang Experiment Hits New Low For Seattle Mariners

By Thom Tsang
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the Seattle Mariners should have just put Aaron Harang on the DL.

Having apparently fought off some back stiffness that saw his last start get pushed back, the veteran sure didn’t look to be in particularly good form on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels. Instead, he was more than happy to spark the offense of the M’s divisional rival, putting his name down on the wrong side of history by allowing the single and triple that Mike Trout needed to complete the cycle.

And just like that, Harang was gone.

Like a mirage (or more a nightmare, really), the right-hander lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits … but at least he struck out four and walked none?

That’s simply not good enough, of course, and it’s a show that the Mariners have seen basically from the time they traded for the DFA’d pitcher back in April. It might have looked like things were turning around for Harang’s return to the AL (he started his career with the Oakland Athletics) following two straight quality outings, but that too may have been part of the mirage.

Against one of the worst teams in the league, the 35-year-old was at his absolute worst, and the reasons for his time in Seattle to continue are dwindling quickly.

The biggest problem, as you can imagine, is the home runs. Despite an excellent 5.40 K/BB thanks to 27 strikeouts to just five walks in 28.1 innings, Harang has been giving up long balls like it’s the home run derby with eight of them on the season thus far, good enough for a 2.54 HR/9 rate.

Including Tuesday, he’s now given up multiple home runs in three of his six starts, and it’s no coincidence that none of those have lasted past the fifth inning.

His fly ball tendencies in his new home (48.5 percent fly balls, a career-high) and his hittability (.315 BAA) are both culprits to his 17 percent HR/FB rate, and even though luck is not particularly on his side (54.6 percent strand rate, .348 BABIP despite an 18.6 percent line drive rate and 9.4 percent infield hits rate), he’s not really doing himself any favors to correct that.

Will he have a few more six-inning quality outings if he sticks around? Sure. But at this rate, his main asset — the ability to eat innings at the back of the rotation — might not even come into play if the fly balls trends are going to continue.

Maybe there was a reason why neither the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Colorado Rockies wanted him around, after all.

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