It’s only been four starts, but Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Harang has the look of a man who is on a mission. In two of those four starts, the right-hander has come so close to throwing a no-hitter that he could taste it. At this point, it’s only a matter of time until Harang tosses his first career no-hitter in 2014.
In his first start of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers, Harang and Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza were in a pitcher’s duel that saw them both not surrender a hit until the seventh inning. No one really knew how much to buy into the performance of either player. Was it veteran luck, opening week jitters or a sign of good things to come? Harang answered that question on Friday night.
The 35-year-old didn’t give up a hit for seven consecutive innings against the New York Mets. Unfortunately, it took him 121 pitches to get through those seven innings, which forced Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to pull him from the contest. As disappointing as it was to have it happen, Harang understood that his skipper had no choice but to go to the bullpen. If it’s the ninth inning then Gonzalez leaves Harang in the game to take a shot at greatness. However, a 121-pitch count in the seventh is borderline dangerous for someone of Harang’s age.
The man who has come so close to throwing a no-hitter so many times before clearly understands what it takes to go the distance. The way he’s throwing the ball in the early going of the 2014 season proves that he will have a place in the history books before the year is done.
If anything else, Harang can hang his hat on the fact that he’s the most dominant starter in baseball at the moment. In four starts, he’s 3-1 with a MLB-best 0.70 ERA and 22 strikeouts.