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Dan Haren in a rough patch
To Hell and back soon?
Haren is often underrated and overlooked as a workhorse in his career, but his recent sour spell has many focusing on him in a negative light. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher owns a 3.97 ERA on the season. Not bad, but in his last three starts, he's 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA, 11 earned runs and five homers allowed.
The 31-year-old dealt with a minor back issue back in May, and while skipper Mike Scioscia said it affected his pitcher, it wasn't enough to make him miss any starts. By all accounts, he's completely healthy now, and Scioscia and some of his teammates agreed that Haren looked as sharp as he has all season in his last outing - regardless of the results. Haren acknowledged he felt great, too.
As he treads on the wrong side of 30, Haren has slowly lost some oomph on his fastball - he's down 2 mph from his career mark of 90.8. Still, Haren has never relied on his heat to be successful, and his K/9 and BB/9 numbers remained intact last year despite a drastic increase in cutter usage. His dominance and command haven't strayed from his career norms this year, either.
He started the year off relatively strong, so this recent period of ineffectiveness could easily just be a blip on the radar for Haren while he works on hitting his spots. Scioscia suggested that the D-backs - Haren's former squad - had a great approach last Friday and made him pay when he left the ball up in the zone.
Due to the age factor and a declining velocity, Haren shouldn't be relied on for ace-like numbers. However, his peripherals suggest his last three starts won't be the norm for him for the remainder of the season. Be patient here.
Tampa Bay Rays place Jeremy Hellickson on the DL
The Rays opted to take the cautious approach with Hellickson, who is dealing with right shoulder fatigue. Hell Boy insists that he'll only miss two starts, and X-rays showed no structural damage. He says he's pain-free, too.
It's plausible that the "weakness" in his wing affected his last two outings - even though he denies that - in which he allowed nine combined runs in eight total frames, including a seven-walk outing June 8 against the Miami Marlins. In his last appearance last Thursday against the New York Mets, he was blown up for eight earned in just 3 2/3 frames while giving up three jacks.
Hellickson, last year's American League Rookie of the Year, owns a 3.45 ERA that is masking a very blah 5.97 K/9 and a 13.2 HR/FB. Don't expect a drastic change in his profile when he returns to health; he remains control-based and pitches to contact, leaving him prone to the long ball if he's not hitting his spots consistently.
Archer will be called up to make the start in Hellickson's place Wednesday versus the Washington Nationals. He was acquired via the Chicago Cubs in the 2011 trade involving hurler Matt Garza.
His 4.81 ERA in 76 2/3 innings (14 starts) with Triple-A Durham doesn't speak to his swing-and-miss, slider-fastball power combo; he's fanned 90 hitters but has walked 45, too. Control is his bugaboo, but he's worth a look in AL leagues and deep mixers, considering his two starts will be against the Nats and Kansas City Royals, assuming Hellickson is true to his word and returns in short order.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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