Maybe I’m crazy for asking. The guy hasn’t played a full season since 2004, the only full season (31 starts) on his resume. He’s already missed a month this year with a shoulder issue. But he’s an ace when healthy and he’s playing the best baseball of his major league career right now. And (I think maybe some people forget or don’t know) he’s only 26. Rotowire’s David Regan noted this week, “A healthy Rich Harden may be the best pitcher in baseball (no hyperbole). Harden is the only AL starter with a K/9 in double-digits (11.1).”
I inherited a completely decimated team in a keeper league (14 teams, 7 keepers per) and have been shopping Harden since late May, alone and paired with other useful players, hoping a contending team that needs pitching help might hand over a modest under-producing keeper. But few leaguemates take Harden seriously.
Maybe it’s just frustrated defiance but the longer he stays healthy and continues to dominate, the more I consider it. On a team mostly stocked with unproven riffraff of assorted potential (gems in the rough on optimistic days) he could be the comeback story that completes the turnaround. No one is surprised with his level of production. They’ll only be surprised if he stays healthy the rest of the way.