Sunday, April 12, 2009

Welcome back, Aaron Harang

I had huge hopes for Aaron Harang last year. The Cincinnati Reds ace was coming off back-to-back seasons of 16 wins, a sub-4.00 ERA and more than 200 strikeouts, and 2008 was going to be the year he made the leap to elite status.

And then he went out and sucked.

Six wins, 17 losses. A 4.78 ERA. Thirty-five home runs allowed (second most in the league). Only 153 strikeouts.

Not what we were hoping for, big guy.

The Harangatang is back in a big way in 2009, however. He won his first game Sunday against Pittsburgh, a complete-game three-hitter with nine strikeouts and just one walk. He was great on Opening Day, too, when he lost a duel with Johan Santana, allowing just one run on a solo homer.

So what's been the difference? After spending almost a month on the DL last year with forearm trouble in the midst of his career low point, Harang dedicated himself to getting healthy. He shed 33 pounds in the offseason, slimming down to around 250 pounds. If he can keep the ball in the park this year and continues to fan batters, he should get back to where he left off in 2007.

My prediction: Harang finishes the year as a top 10-12 fantasy starter.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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