Will Harris has proven to be one of the top relievers not only for the Houston Astros but in all of Major League Baseball.
The MLB All-Star game is just over six weeks away, and the yearly debates over who will end up in San Diego have begun. For the Houston Astros, an unexpected face may be the one representing the squad in the American League bullpen.
Will Harris‘ 2016 campaign has been stellar so far. Through 22 outings totaling 22.2 innings pitched, Harris has posted a 0.40 ERA and even more impressive, and he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 21.2 innings. The only run to score on Harris didn’t even technically score while he was on the mound.
Quote from Jake Kaplan’s Astros’ Will Harris has been one of baseballs best relievers.
“I don’t think I’ve done anything different,” Harris said. “It’s a long year, so who knows how the rest of it’s going to turn out? But so far, I have a game plan of how I’m trying to approach hitters, and trying to be consistent with that and my preparation every day.”- Harris via Jake Kaplan.
In his first game of the season on April 7, Harris came out to work the seventh inning after striking out two in the sixth against the Yankees. With the game tied at five, Harris recorded one out before Brett Gardner reached on a single. Harris was then pulled for Ken Giles, who eventually gave up a go-ahead three-run home run to Mark Teixeira, leaving Harris on the hook for Gardner.
Since then, however, Harris has been phenomenal.
Of the 86 batters, he’s faced thus far; Harris has struck out 25 while issuing just three free passes for a 0.71 WHIP. Over the Astros’ last series with Baltimore, in which they set the MLB record for most strikeouts in a series, Harris was a major contributor to that. He appeared in all three games against the Orioles and struck out five while allowing just two hits.
But the real factor that has put Harris into the upper echelon of relievers this season has been his reliability. Like most arms out of the pen, Harris is typically a straight one-inning of work man. He has recorded a number 1-2-3 innings over the month of May. In fact, through 12 appearances in May, Harris has only faced more than three batters in an inning seven times and has faced more than four batters in an inning just once.
The Houston-born Harris has also proven himself among the best when it comes to the game’s top relievers. As of May 28, Harris is tops in ERA and second in WHIP among relievers with at least 18.0 innings pitched.
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After last season, in which the 31-year old righthander put up a 1.90 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP after the Astros claimed him off waivers from the Diamondbacks in November 2014, it’s a welcome sight for Houston to continue to get dominance out of Harris.
“He’s got a calm heartbeat,” A.J. Hinch, Astros manager, said. “He’s a really, really even-keeled competitor, and I trust him in every situation possible.” Quote from Jake Kaplan’s Astros’ Will Harris has been one of baseballs best relievers.
Harris has led a bullpen that has been one of the best over the course of the last month. Along with fellow relievers Giles, Michael Feliz and Pat Neshek, the Astros’ bullpen has been a force to reckon with. The four have combined for 60 strikeouts and eight walks for a 15:2 strikeout-walk ratio. Besides, the relieving corps has given up just 26 hits to the 164 batters they have faced so far in May.
With a lineup filled with names such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer, Astros’ fans are hopeful to see more names end up on the All-Star game roster. And it could happen. There’s still plenty of time between now and the midseason festivities.
But fans certainly shouldn’t be upset to see a reliever represent the newest member of the A.L. West. Harris certainly deserves it.
**Stats from Baseball-Reference**