Matt Harrison is 2011’s C.J. Wilson

The Texas Rangers’ Matt Harrison is only one start into 2011, and it’s been dominant. Seven innings, 5 hits, 2 walks (both in the 7th inning after showing signs of fatigue), and 8 strikeouts (four looking) against arguably Major League Baseball’s best lineup in the Boston Red Sox.

Harrison opened the 2008 and 2009 season as the Rangers’ #5 starter, but with the loss of Cliff Lee to free agency and Tommy Hunter to injury, he slid into the 3rd spot of the rotation. Matt had a solid spring, leading all Ranger pitchers with 23 innings.

He’s a hard thrower for a left-handed pitcher, topping out at 94 miles per hour. Any lefty that can do that will have a chance to be successful in baseball. He’s had flashes of greatness, including today, as long as he minimizes the walks. He got into trouble against the Sox after 2 walks in one inning, but came back to strike out Jacoby Ellsbury. If Harrison can keep his K:BB above 3:1, he’ll have a chance to go deep into games and position himself to win a lot of games.

Advice: Pick Harrison up and for the first few month or so, use him against favorable matchups. His next expected starts are against Baltimore, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Oakland. Other than the Yankees, those are all favorable, which makes Harrison a very valuable player early on. Even though he dominated a vaunted Boston lineup, he’s still raw enough to be punished by patient, established hitters like the Yankees.

Projection: 28 starts, 175 innings, 14 wins, 3.45 ERA, 145 k’s, 1.26 WHIP

What do you think? Will Harrison have a solid season? Or was this first start an aberration?

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