Rangers activate Harden for Saturday evening start

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As noted by this MLB.com press release, the Rangers activated starter Rich Harden from the disabled list on Saturday afternoon.  In fact, he is on the bump for a Saturday evening matchup with the Angels and their new right-hander, Dan Haren.

Harden hit the 15-day disabled list in early June with a strained glute and an ugly 5.68 ERA and 1.68 WHIP over his first 13 starts.  The Rangers will hope that the extended time off and a subsequent minor league rehab assignment have helped him right the ship.  He struck out 10 batters over six scoreless innings on Monday in his final rehab outing with Triple-A Oklahoma City and threw 67 of his 96 pitches for strikes.  If he pitches like that now that he’s back in the majors, Harden will be just fine.

The Rangers are eight games ahead of the Angels in the American League West and appear to be headed for the playoffs for the first time since 1999.  If Harden wants to be included in the club’s October rotation, he will need to string together some quality outings down the stretch.  He’s plenty capable of that, but he’s yet to actually do it this season for Texas.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.