Lucas Harrell made his third start of the spring last night, and it was another good one. Harrell evened his record at 1-1 with a four inning performance that included two hits, one walk, one run, and one strikeout. Harrell became the first Astros hurler this spring to complete four innings.
I know it has only been three games, but I’m beginning to think Harrell has rediscovered the form that made him the Astros’ pitcher of the year in 2012. With the exception of some command issues in the initial inning of his first start, Harrell has been nothing short of dominant. And his control has gotten progressively better with each outing.
No one hit the ball out of the infield against Harrell in his first start. A few seeing eye grounders found their way to the outfield grass in his next two starts but it wasn’t until his ninth inning of work that a fly ball made its way to the outfield. In nine innings this spring Harrell has allowed six hits, five walks, and three runs. He also has three strikeouts.
Harrell had a few excellent outings at the beginning of 2013 before falling into a slump that would last the rest of the season. That slump seemed to be more mental than physical. It appears as though Harrell has his mental game back together this spring. We can only hope that it lasts. Here’s what Lucas told Jose de Jesus Ortiz after Monday’s outing.
"I feel like right now it’s gotten a lot better from last year. Also my ability to throw strikes down in the zone right now is really going well too. It’s been one of those things to where I’m breaking my hands well on the rubber. I’m staying back. Some of the things I wasn’t doing as well last year, I’m starting to do better like I did in 2012. It’s definitely a good feeling when you’re doing those things right and you’re executing your pitches."
Harrell has definitely pitched himself back into the equation for the Astros starting rotation. He and fellow “veteran” Dallas Keuchel have been the club’s most effective starters thus far this spring. What a tremendous boost it would be if these two guys could step up and deliver for the Astros this year.
Lucas Harrell (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)