Rich Harden made his second rehab start last night for AAA Oklahoma City and there wasn't much to be encouraged by. Harden was ineffective, giving up four runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out three in just three and two thirds innings of work. According to the Oklahoman, Harden was also struck by a line drive, from Darwin Barney, off the knee cap in the second inning. He would manage to stay in the game and continue to struggle.
Harden threw only 67 pitches, 41 of which were strikes, good for 61% strikes - a percentage that is down from his last three major league appearances.
Harden's problems in Texas are pretty well documented at this point. I've always been a big Rich Harden fan, but it's tough to stay on that bandwagon this year. His velocity, per Fangraphs, is down 1.3 MPH from last year on his fastball. While I don't think that 1.3 MPH off a fastball is anything to really worry about, the ineffectiveness of it is. Again per Fangraphs, Harden's wFB this year has been -6.3. Needless to say, without a good fastball in the Major Leagues, it's really, really difficult if not impossible to be consistently successful.
It would be nice if Harden could get things turned around sooner rather than later, string together a nice run of starts and perhaps make himself a candidate for the playoff rotation - should the Rangers make it. A healthy and effective Rich Harden coupled with Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis would be really, really, really tough in a playoff series. At this point of the season, it's looking to me more and more that Harden will not pitch up to his ability this year which is a shame. Hopefully he proves me wrong.