When the trade for P Rich Harden was made, I wasn't exactly all that enthusiastic about it. I mean, yeah, the Chicago Cubs had gotten a top of the rotation type starter and that's what they needed after the Milwaukee Brewers had acquired CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians. But I was worried that Harden wouldn't be able to stay healthy, or pitch far enough into ballgames to help the Cubs. Especially with how suspect some parts of the Cubs bullpen are. But in the month and a half or so that Harden has been on the northside, he has shown Cubs fans and all of baseball what to expect from him if he stays healthy.
Looking at the numbers post trade, because as a Cubs fan, that's all that really matters to me, Harden and Sabathia are having a very Rick Sutcliffe type half season. For those of you who don't remember, or maybe to young to even know what I'm talking about, the Cubs made a trade for Sutcliffe in June of 1984 and after that move, the Red Baron went 16-1 for the Cubs, helped them win their Division and almost helped them make the World Series and won the NL Cy Young award, while only pitching in 20 games that season. And obviously, neither one of these guys will win a Cy Young while only pitching half a season in the NL, but that doesn't mean they aren't having better seasons than Sutcliffe had in 1984. These numbers are through Aug. 27th:
Sabathia 8-0 in 10 starts. 1.59 ERA and an opponents average against of .233. Since joining the Brewers, Sabathia's WHIP is 1.05, he's averaging almost 8 and a half strikeouts per 9 innings and has thrown an average of 111 pitches. That's not a lot, but he has 3 starts above 120.
Harden has been his equal, compiling a 4-1 record in 8 starts and sporting an ERA of 1.47. The NL is hitting .162 since he's joined the Cubs and has a strikeouts per 9 innings of 12.9. About the only thing Harden hasn't been able to do is go long into ballgames. But the Cubs are trying to keep him fresh for the postseason and I guess there really isn't much wrong with that. Sure, some could argue that you have to make it first, but unless the Cubs plan on having a collapse that would make the 1969 Cubs cringe, I'm ok with them holding him out. Of course, the Cubs play 27 of the next 29 against teams with .500 or better records, so nothing is certain.