Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 1/17/13
Yu Darvish has his partner at the top of the Rangers’ rotation for the next few years. Matt Harrison and the Rangers agreed Wednesday night to a five-year, $55 million dollar contract, making the 27-year-old an official piece of the Rangers’ ever-impressive core. However, where Darvish has the ideal profile for a hitters’ heaven like Texas — swing-and-miss stuff with every pitch, giving him the ability to keep the ball off bats, much less out of the air — Harrison’s profile is nearly the opposite. Over the past two years, the lefty has sat near or even below the starter averages in both strikeout rate and contact rate, and he isn’t an extreme groundballer either. Harrison has pitched through exceptional results the last two years, with his two straight sub-3.40 ERAs translating to ERA- totals under 80. At this level, he’s not just a solid pitcher to pair with Darvish, but a true ace — he compiled 10.6 RA9-WAR over the past two years. Only 10 pitchers have bested Harrison’s total, and he’s within half a win of Johnny Cueto, James Shields, CC Sabathia and Matt Cain (numbers six through ten). Harrison probably can’t keep as many runners from scoring over the next half decade. Increased use of a solid sinker — up from 28 percent of the time in 2011 to 41 percent in 2012 — will help him keep the home runs down. The pitch has induced nearly three times as many ground balls as fly balls over his career and was slightly better as he cranked up the usage in 2012. Still, it takes too many fortuitous hops to keep 78 percent of runners from scoring even if the ball stays in the yard, so Harrison will likely be a little bit worse going forward. But so what? Harrison still ranks 17th since 2011 in FIP-WAR at 8.2, within half a win of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Madison Bumgarner. He has great control and can keep the sinker in the zone as well (if not better) than his four-seamer. He’s capable of touching the mid-90s and doesn’t have the mediocre fastball typically associated with the pitch-to-contact player — particularly not one of the left-handed variety. At $11 million per season ($13 million in the bought out free agent years), the Rangers are paying Harrison as just a slightly above-average starting pitcher. Harrison is young and has shown durability the last two seasons (62 starts). Even if his results fall back to his peripherals, Harrison will well outpitch his contract. Even if his home run rates and BABIP regress to the mean — and, it should be noted, the mean pitcher does not showcase as good a fastball, sinker, nor changeup as Harrison — Harrison will still be at or near the performance called for by this pact. The Rangers have had their share of high-profile departures over the past few years, and at times it can be enough to make one forget about the talent remaining on the roster — particularly players like Harrison who lack star flair. Harrison’s new contract isn’t flashy either, but Jon Daniels and company have invested in one of the best 20 (or fewer) pitchers of the last two years with this move. Investments like this one will keep the Rangers competitive as they transition out of the Josh Hamilton era and through the second half of the decade.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Top five takeaways from this year's NBA Summer League

NCAA rules that hanging out with hip-hop star Drake is violation

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

RUMOR: Celtics sign Green, Zeller and two others to contract deals

Kevin Durant Thunder jerseys going for less than 50 cents in OKC

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Why are Saints holding out on contract talks with Drew Brees?

Jay Gruden gives out primo parking spots to hard-working players

Report: Colts' Jones suspended four games for PED use

Report: Royals have interest in Nick Markakis

Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence 911 call released

Manu Ginobili talks interest in 76ers before sticking with Spurs

Aussie Rules Football player accidentally kicks, breaks own leg

Former Arkansas football assistant trolls Bobby Petrino on social media

Could Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw's injury hinder trade talks?

Spurs strike a new deal with NBA stalwart Manu Ginobli

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Orioles affiliate pay tribute to David Bowie on their jerseys

Report: Rangers pushing trade efforts for Sale

Russell Martin day-to-day after sauna-related mishap

Celtics reportedly unwilling to give up much for Jahlil Okafor

Report: Jay Bruce drawing trade interest

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker