Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who needs Rich Harden, part II

Tragic number after Tuesday's game: 10. Tigers and Twins both won.

At the end of July there was a great deal of speculation that the Twins were about to make a waiver deal for Rich Harden. The trade did not come to fruition, and — if you care to put credence in the public statements of Jim Hendry, the Cubs general manager — never was seriously considered.

The rotation spot that would have gone to Harden is being filled now by Jeff Manship (above).

Manship has now made four starts and has lived up to the public evaluations of the Twins management — he's not ready to pitch in the majors, but he's the best available option right now. He went five innings in his first start, and hasn't gone that deep since. On Tuesday, he got all of seven outs, giving up five hits and four runs.

And yet, the Twins are 3-1 in Manship's starts.

That's a credit not to Manship, whose ERA as a starter is now 6.89, but to the lineup and the bullpen. Harden, by the way, has pitched all of 12 innings this month. At last word, he may start again in the final week, or he may not. He is not, and should not be expected to be, an innings eater. Which is relevant because the only damage Manship can be argued to have done to the Twins divisional chances is straining the bullpen.

If the Twins fail to win this divisional title — and the odds are against them — the decision not to deal for Rich Harden is not to blame.

Addendum: Manship is scheduled to start Sunday in Kansas City. His likely mound opponent: Zach Grienke, who is only the best pitcher in the league. It figures to be a tough matchup for any of the starters.

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