Reviewing 2012: Relying on Aaron Harang

One of the Dodgers’ key additions last offseason was to round out the starting rotation by signing veteran right-handed starter Aaron Harang.  After being one of the National League’s workhorses for many years with the Cincinnati Reds, Harang was slowed by injuries and saw himself sign a one-year deal with his hometown San Diego Padres prior to 2011.

After a solid year with the Padres, Harang was cut loose, but found a more-than willing suitor in the Dodgers.  Harang was a consistent and reliable starter for the Dodgers in 2012.

The Numbers: 10-10, 3.61 ERA, 131:85 K:BB, 179.2 innings, 1.35 WHIP, 31 games started

Much like fellow off-season addition Chris Capuano, Harang was in the second year of a comeback and had his heaviest workload in four years.

Harang’s 179.2 innings pitched was his most since 2008, and his 31 starts were his most since 2007.

Although his 10-10 record was not impressive, in his 11th season, Harang had a career best ERA of 3.61.  Opponents hit only .246 against Harang, second-lowest in his career, and his best mark since 2007.

Harang struggled with his control at times though, walking a career-worst 85 batters.  His 1.54 K:BB ratio was far off his 2.65 mark, and the worst of his career.

Season Highlights:

April 13 vs. Padres – Harang set a Dodgers record by striking out nine consecutive batters, and 13 total, to go with only two walks.  Harang would exit in the 7th inning with an 8-3 lead, but the Dodgers’ bullpen imploded and was unable to hold the lead for Harang.  The Dodgers would win the game with a bases-loaded, walk-off walk to Andre Ethier.

May 12 vs. Rockies – The Harangatang (as coined by Dodgers Nation’s own Jeff Spiegel) pitched a season-high eight innings, giving up only one run, with two strikeouts and two walks.  Locked in a pitchers’ duel with the Rockie’s Juan Nicasio, an 8th inning single by Tony Gwynn, Jr. gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead that would hold up for Harang’s second win of the year.

July 25 vs. Cardinals – Harang scattered two runs and two hits over 7.1 innings, striking out eight and walking four in a key matchup with the Cardinals.  Harang matched Cardinals’ ace Kyle Lohse pitch for pitch, but the Dodgers would come out on the losing end of a 3-2 defeat after 12 innings.

Aug. 18 vs. Braves – In a key late season matchup with the wild-card leading Braves, Harang went into Turner Field and shut down the Atlanta offense for 6.2 innings.  Harang struck out eight and walked five, giving up only one run.  The Dodgers offense would be paced by Hanley Ramirez’s two home runs and Harang would notch his ninth win of the year.

Oct. 1 vs. Giants – Harang set the tone in the final series of the season for the Dodgers holding the Giants to only two hits and one run over six innings of work.  Harang struck out three and walked two, exiting with a 2-1 lead.  The Dodgers would eventually win 3-2 thanks to an Elian Herrera walk-off single.

What’s Next?

After making $3 million dollars in 2012, Harang is scheduled to make $7 million in 2013.  Harang is not flashy in any sense, but he was good for 30 starts and still managed just shy of 180 innings of work.

Harang actually pitched better as the season wore on.  After going 1-2 with a 5.72 ERA in April, Harang had a 3.21 ERA the rest of the season.  Harang pitched especially well down the stretch giving up only eight earned runs in 26.1 innings (2.73 ERA) in five starts in September and October.

It’s looking more likely that Chad Billingsley will be healthy in 2013, meaning the Dodgers will have six starting pitchers on the roster.

Clayton Kershaw and Billingsley are locked in at the one and two spots, but the other three will be up for grabs between Harang, Capuano, Josh Beckett and Ted Lilly.

It’s possible one could be moved to the bullpen or potentially traded.  General Manager Ned Colletti has said adding even more pitching depth is a goal of his this off-season.

Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, and Dan Haren head the pitching free agent class, and the Dodgers have shown they’re willing to spend.

Harang will turn 35 next season and wouldn’t garner much in a trade, so look for the Harangatang to shore up the back end of the Dodgers’ rotation in 2013.

Staff Writer

Staff Writer features content written by our site editors along with our staff of contributing writers. Thank you for your readership.

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