The Arrival of Dan Haren in Arizona anointed the Diamondbacks as the posh
favorite pick as the best team in the National League. That has been
tempered somewhat after the Mets' acquisition of Johan Santana and the continued
onslaught of injuries the Diamondbacks have endured this spring.
Unfortunately, the buzz around Haren's acquisition was worse than the pitcher's
Statistics Courtesy of
Dan Haren has a career ERA under 4.00 and nearly had one under 3.00 in 2007.
His career strikeout-to-walk ratio is over 3:1, and even approached 4:1 last
year. He's as durable as they come, having made 34 starts in each of the
past three seasons.
But the fuzzy-faced pitcher also comes with a set of caveats. All of
Haren's numbers came while pitching half his games in a pitcher's park and all
of them in front of a good-to-great defense. He now moves to a hitter's
dream field, although the Diamondbacks figure to field a good defense as well.
But the ballpark switch could be a problem. Haren allows approximately
one homer for every 7 2/3 innings he pitches outside of Oakland, which would
project to 29 homers in a neutral setting over the 220 innings that we can
realistically expect from this workhorse. But Chase Field has increased home run output by about 18%
over a neutral National League park over the past four years. That adds
another five homers to Haren's projected total: a whopping 34 homers that would
have tied him for second most among major league pitchers last year... with none
other than Livan Hernandez.
Make no mistake: Haren has better stuff than Livo does at this stage of their
careers, and he's always displayed better control than the Cuban defector.
But those who expect Brandon Webb and Dan Haren to become the best 1-2 punch in
the National League can pretty much forget it. Webb is one of the best in
the business at preventing the home run while Haren ranks as one of the worst.
But Haren figured something out last year, right? Well, he did early
on, at least. But in the final three months of the season, Haren went 6-7
with a 4.39 ERA. For his career, Haren has a 4.11 ERA after the All-Star
break. It's hard to say whether this occurs because of the heavy workloads
that he shoulders or some other factor, but he has established a pattern of
fading as the season progresses.
This year, his first and second half splits figure to be accentuated.
Haren should succeed early on in the NL, as most of the hitters in the senior
circuit aren't too familiar with his stuff. Indeed, Haren is 7-2 with a
2.93 ERA in his career against National League teams. But once hitters are
more comfortable with his stuff and once the desert heats up to daily
triple-digit weather, Haren will see a lot of hard-hit balls against him.
Haren is still a workhorse, and that's more important than ever with Doug Davis slated to miss at least a month of the season while undergoing treatment
for thyroid cancer. But speaking of Doug Davis, his strikeout rate is as
close to Haren's as Webb's is. Haren is as likely to put up Doug
Davis-type numbers s he is Brandon Webb-type stats, but neither is
particularly likely. Haren won't beat himself with walks the way Davis
will, and he can't induce ground ball outs nearly as well as Webb can.
We can expect Dan Haren to begin the season well, as always, then perform
like an average innings-eater in the second half. That will work well for
the Diamondbacks if Randy Johnson has reverted back to his dominant self by that
point. If not, the supposedly unparalleled Diamondbacks rotation will
suddenly look very mediocre indeed.
Prediction: 13-12 4.19 - 184 K, 64 BB, 34 HR
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