Coming into 2015, taking a $5 million flier on Aaron Harang seemed like a relative no-brainer. At 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 2014 in a bounce-back campaign with the Braves, Harang appeared to be an interesting signing with the potential to return some sort of prospect at the trade deadline.
And in the beginning of the 2015 season, Harang was the bonafide ace of the Phillies, surpassing all expectations. In his first nine starts, Harang went 4-3 with a 1.82 ERA on a team that was rapidly falling out of contention. Harang was showing flashes of the pitcher he was in 2006 with the Reds, a year he led the NL in wins, strikeouts, and complete games. But the Harang the Phillies were privy to after that point resembled the Harang that struggled on his way out of Cincinnati and with Seattle in 2013 than the Cy Young candidate he once was.
It turned out the drop off in production was because he was gutting things out through a foot injury that had been bothering him for weeks. Ouch.
From May 24 through July 1, the date in which Harang hit the DL, the 6’7″ right-hander lost a remarkable eight-straight decisions, posting a 6.94 ERA. Harang would take a trip to the DL and return on July 30. He’d start 12 more games, posting a 6.11 ERA in that stretch and pitching six innings or less in nine starts. He was not traded and ended the year as a Phillie. Harang is now a free agent.
Grade: D-. Harang’s final line (6-15, 4.86, 29 starts) is completely unremarkable but is saved from an F for his hot start where he was among the best pitchers in the NL. He gutted out most of the last three-forths of the season with a foot injury and chewed innings at a time when the Phillies needed someone to do so. While Harang’s season ultimately ended on a disappointing note, he was an early bright spot on a team that was headed for the basement.