Harrell began the season as part of the Astros’ starting rotation. Something of a golden boy from his encouraging breakthrough 2012 season, he definitely hit a sophomore slump. His ERA worsened with progressive outings, and with only five wins in 20 starts, he was dropped to the bullpen.
He seems to rely as much on confidence as any pitcher, and the relegation to the ‘pen was a huge shock to his system. He has had a couple of passable outings in relief recently, and apparently this was enough to earn him a starting spot.
The Rangers have walked all over the Astros this season, taking 11 of 13 games in the Texas rivalry. Houston has been playing very well lately, however, and should they continue their current form, they won’t be a pushover for Ron Washington’s men. But the Rangers have been scoring in droves recently, and if they are able to storm out of the gates early on Monday night, it’s going to be a big test of Harrell’s resolve.
The Astros’ offense look like they are going to be able to give him decent run support, likely from surging sluggers like Matt Dominguez and Brett Wallace, but how much will be enough? If Harrell goes down early, Astros fans will be pleading for him to pick himself back up, dust himself off, and prove that he is the talented pitcher from just a year ago.