If you were patient with Aaron Harang(notes) the last three seasons, you paid the make-believe price. The bottom really dropped out last summer, when he posted a 5.32 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over 22 mediocre appearances. You can play the unlucky card all you like – Harang's peripherals suggest he wasn't quite this bad over the last three years – but 75 home runs don't leave the park completely by accident. And his walk and strikeout rates were both moving in the wrong direction in 2010.
Ah, but the sirens of 2006 and 2007 keep singing to us, when Harang was just about the most inexpensive 200-strikeout horse you could buy. Maybe he can fix his career in his hometown of San Diego; this is the Adrian Gonzalez story in reverse, a player exchanging a pitcher's hell (Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati) for a pitcher's haven (Petco Park).
Harang got the ball for San Diego's home opener Tuesday and he was up to the assignment, working six sharp innings against the Giants (6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K). Harang was around the plate, his slider looked tight, and he kept the ball in the park – and for the most part out of the air (10 ground-ball outs). It's not hard to build a plausible upside for Harang; if nothing else, you can steer him to the favorable parks and sit him when a nasty matchup looms. His next turn is a home date against the Dodgers on Sunday; I'll give him a spin.
• Alexi Ogando(notes) got the better of the phenom showdown in Arlington, shutting the Mariners down over six innings (2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K). Have a look at the video here. The only downside to Ogando's start came in the sixth inning when he developed a blister; he was allowed to finish the frame, but this could be something that affects his next turn. Michael Pineda(notes) wasn't bad on the other side (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K), facing what might be the AL's best offense right now. We can't expect a ton of innings from either young arm, but both kids have a chance to be mixed-league relevant right out of the box.
• Jordan Walden's(notes) first day in the Angels closing chair went swimmingly at Tampa – fly out, fly out, strikeout, handshake. Walden threw 10 of 13 pitches for strikes and you have to love how the ball seems to explode from his hand; he has no trouble dialing it up to the high 90s. Andy Behrens has been out front of this closing situation all season; hopefully you did the right thing and added this kid while it was still available to you.
• Nyjer Morgan(notes) had three hits for the Brewers out of the No. 2 slot, which should get him an extended trial in the lineup. Anything that keeps Carlos Gomez(notes) on the bench is probably a good idea. Milwaukee only managed one run and seven hits against Derek Lowe(notes) and Co., but it was enough as Yovani Gallardo(notes) spun a pitch-to-contact two-hitter (0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 111 pitches).
• New York's Chris Young doesn't exactly burn up the radar gun, but he had enough moxie to trick the Phillies over 5.1 effective innings (5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 7 K). Young also had three hits at the dish, including two in a six-run inning that knocked out ineffective Cole Hamels(notes) (2.2 IP, 6 R). The Phillies did steal two bases of Young (Jimmy Rollins(notes), Wilson Valdez(notes)), which is par for the course – he's been horrendous at holding runners his entire career. Young's next turn is a reasonable assignment, a home start against Washington.
• Kyle McClellan(notes) had to settle for a no-decision in his first career start, but otherwise it was a useful line he provided us (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). Keep in mind he had a 0.78 ERA over 23 spring innings, and we'd follow Dave Duncan into a burning building if it came to it. Assuming no one gets skipped in the St. Louis, rotation, McClellan will get two turns next week (at Arizona, at Los Angeles).
• Josh Beckett(notes) only lasted five innings in Cleveland (5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K) but it felt like a complete game, in time elapsed anyway. Watch Beckett shake off his catcher, watch Beckett step off the mound, wait for Beckett to throw a pitch, watch Beckett go deep in the count. It's not fair for Beckett and notorious time-waster Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) to be on the same team. Beckett gets the call Sunday night against the Yankees in our weekly Roto Arcade chat – just a warming, peeps, we might be punchy by the fourth inning.
If you've got Beckett in a daily mixed league, I don't see how you can dial him up against the Yanks. Beckett's career ERA is 6.26 against New York and 4.59 at Fenway Park, and the Bombers have opened the year on a homer binge (13 round-trippers over five games).
• It's not a proud day when you decide to rent Willie Bloomquist(notes) in a mixed league – there's nothing in his career line that inspires any long-term confidence. That said, Bloomquist does have a homer and four bags for the Snakes – he grabbed another steal Tuesday – and there are no guarantees yet on Stephen Drew's(notes) return. I'll own them both for the time being in the Friends & Family until Drew shows he's hale again. (My left brain knows that all stats are fleeting.)
• Anyone feeling it for Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow(notes)? He's piled up five scoreless innings this year (two on Tuesday), with one walk against seven strikeouts. And there's a pedigree here, as he was the 12th overall pick in 2009. Middle-relief heroes emerge every year, seemingly out of thin air.
Speed Round: Andrew Cashner(notes) threw 5.1 strong innings against Arizona then left with a tight shoulder. We'll see what the MRI says. … Andruw Jones(notes) hit a homer in his spot start, then later got a shower of onion rings. If he can continue to produce against lefties, it's going to cost Brett Gardner(notes) (who sat Tuesday) and Curtis Granderson(notes) some playing time. … Intriguing Jhoulys Chacin(notes) (7 IP, 5 H, 4 K) got the better of Clayton Kershaw(notes) (6 IP, 3 R, 2 HR, 8 K) in a tidy 3-0 victory at Coors. … Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) (thumb) will throw Wednesday but he's still uncertain to make his Friday turn. … Brian Wilson(notes) (oblique) should be available for the Giants on Wednesday. … The Marlins aren't going to bring back Mike Stanton(notes) (hamstring) until the weekend at earliest. … Alex Gordon(notes) keeps trying to get your attention; he had three hits and a homer in KC's extra-inning win. The Royals also stole three bases, with Jeff Francoeur(notes), Alcides Escobar(notes) and Matt Treanor(notes) doing the honors. … Hurry back Andrew Bailey(notes), the Athletics need you. Oakland had a tenth-inning lead at Toronto (courtesy of Josh Willingham's(notes) second homer), but it blew up when Grant Balfour(notes) allowed a two-run walkoff dinger to Yunel Escobar(notes). … The Reds knocked J.A. Happ(notes) around (4 IP, 7 R) and have been the NL's most impressive club in the opening week. Mike Leake(notes) got the victory with six solid innings (3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K). … Jose Bautista(notes) is going to miss a couple of games as he deals to a personal matter. … Mat Latos(notes) (shoulder) might be less than a week away from a return.
Images courtesy US Presswire (Harang) and AP (Beckett)