Okay, so it wasn't headline news around the world. Other stuff was going on. But it was big news in Houston, for the people who write about (and read about) the Astros! I read everything and here's a sampling of Harrell's reaction to the news:
Yeah, I was shocked. I was really shocked...
I didn’t realize this until someone told me today but I’m tied with Felix Hernandez for 10 starts with one run or less in all of baseball. I think that’s kind of tough to move a guy like that down to the bullpen. But they make the decision so it’s their call. … I feel like I’ve been pretty durable and I’ve given a lot. It’s just — that’s why I was completely shocked and caught off guard by it.
I'm partial to Harrell because we share tribal homelands (southwest Missouri). But he doesn't have a great case for being more than a No. 5 or 6 starter in the majors. He's thrown 330 innings in Class AAA in his professional career, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was just 1.4. He was able to survive, though, by giving up very few home runs. He's a sinkerball pitcher, mostly.
But that strikeout-to-walk ratio? That's who Lucas Harrell is. In the majors, he's got a 1.5 mark. It was a touch better last year, when he went 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA. But the key for Harrell is the home runs. Last season he gave up only 13 in 194 innings, and this year he's given up 15 in 104 innings. He's also leading the American League in walks. You can't give up a ton of walks and more than your share of home runs and argue for a slot in the rotation.
I mean, you can. But not many people are going to feel sorry for you. It seems that Harrell probably just had a career year last year, and that's that. Or maybe he just needs to pitch in the National League, and maybe in a ballpark that's friendlier to his skills.
He got his tryout, though. He's 28 and he's started 53 games for a rebuilding team, and that's probably just about enough.