Lucas Harrell (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
It’s been a long fall from grace for former Houston Astros pitcher Lucas Harrell. The right-hander was once thought to be a key part of the Astros rotation, but has now been released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Astros traded Harrell to Arizona for cash (it was first reported to be a PTBNL) in April. For two years, the 29-year-old was a consistent member of the Houston rotation. In 2012, he was 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA, 140 strikeouts, and 78 walks in 193.2 innings (32 starts) for Houston. In 2013, he struggled most of the season and led the American League in walks. He finished the year 6-17 with a 5.86 ERA, 89 strikeouts, and 88 walks in 153.2 innings (22 starts). Harrell made three starts for the Astros this season and was 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA in just 12 innings before they designated him for assignment.
The Astros once asked for the Washington Nationals top prospect, Lucas Giolito, in return for Harrell in 2013. That’s when he was valued as an innings-eater and the Astros believed he had high value on the trade market. Before Dallas Keuchel picked up his 10th win this season, Harrell was the last Astros pitcher to accomplish that feat in 2012. The Diamondbacks released him today after he spent most of this season at Triple-A Reno and posted a 5.15 ERA in 22 starts. Since 2012, Harrell has a combined 6.13 ERA in 166 innings in the big leagues.
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I thought he had a future as a cornerstone of the Astros rotation, but he really struggled with control problems the last couple years. There’s a chance Harrell could be picked up by a team for pitching depth down the stretch, but I can’t imagine he has much value right now. At his age, it’s very unlikely he will resurrect his career with another change of scenery.
I remember thinking the Astros may have given up on Harrell too early when they traded him away for basically nothing in April. However, now it looks like it was the right move because Harrell has been getting worse and worse since. It’s unfortunate to see something like this happen to a player who does all the right things, but that’s the business of baseball sometimes. Good luck in the future, Lucas.