The Houston Astros quest to improve their bullpen has already begun. According to Nick Piecoro from the Arizona Republic, the Astros claimed reliever Will Harris off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday.
At first glance, it may appear that claiming the 30 year old Harris is a bit of a lateral move for the Astros, given his 0-3 record with a 4.34 ERA last season. However, that ERA is misleading, as Harris posted a 3.20 FIP, which was more in line with his performance in 2013. Harris also struck out 35 batters against 9 walks in 29 innings of work last season, indicating solid command within the strike zone.
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That continues the performance that Harris had put together in 2013. Overall, in his two seasons with the Diamondbacks, Harris had a 3.42 ERA and a 1.237 WHiP, striking out 88 batters in 81.2 innings. That performance could make Harris a fairly useful member of the Astros bullpen.
A fly ball pitcher, Will Harris has also done a solid job of keeping the ball in the park. Last year, the Astros bullpen allowed a total of 55 home runs, the second most in baseball, eclipsed only by the Colorado Rockies. Harris, despite having a fly ball to groundball rate of almost two to one last year, allowed only three home runs. This was not a one year fluke, as Harris has allowed only nine home runs in his 99.1 innings, giving up exactly three home runs each season.
While Will Harris is never going to be a star reliever, and is unlikely to be anything more than a middle reliever, he could be the type of pitcher that could help revamp the Astros bullpen. Harris is a solid reliever, capable of performing well in a middle relief role.