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.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.