2012 showed everyone what Lucas Harrell was capable of. His 11-11 record with a 3.76 ERA was unprecedented on a Houston Astros team that posted career highs in losses and just about every other negative statistical category.
2013 made everyone forget what Harrell was capable of.
He posted a record of 5-12 with a 5.98 ERA as a starter and 1-5 with a 5.49 ERA as a reliever with a huge increase in home runs and WHIP in 40 less innings pitched. Harrell was nothing short of abysmal in 2013 as he led all of MLB in losses, and on any other team he would find himself without a roster spot.
But the Astros aren’t like any other team, so he’ll take the mound for the spring training opener against the Atlanta Braves.
Yes, it’s spring training, but Harrell has so much and more to prove if he wants to get back into starting rotation talk, and it starts right now. A good couple of innings to kick-start spring training would not only show the team that the 2012 Harrell may be back, but it would do wonders for Harrell’s confidence.
Harrell is a very animated pitcher who frequently converses and scolds himself on the mound during any given game. When things go bad for a pitcher like that, problems like 2013 start to arise.
Success for Harrell starts early. He absolutely must throw a lights-out start so that he can make those conversations on the mound a bit more lighthearted and confident.
It’s very conceivable that Harrell joins the starting rotation out of Spring Training. We know he’s capable. The Astros are all about opportunities, so if Harrell can’t crack the starting five or six, he has no one to blame but himself.