Coming off a very disappointing 2013 season, 28-year-old right-handed pitcher Lucas Harrell will have to put up stellar numbers in 2014 if he wants to remain in an Astros' uniform. In 153 2/3 innings pitched last season, Harrell went 6-17 while posting a dismal 5.86 ERA, along with 89 strikeouts & 88 walks. Why anybody still has a job at the big-league level with 17 losses added to their season resume is beyond me. Harrell's outings were so atrocious last season that he was demoted to the bullpen in July, and it didn't help as his ERA kept rising. When he made his first appearance out of the bullpen on July 9th against the St. Louis Cardinals, Harrell was sporting a 5.06 ERA. He ended the season with a 5.86 ERA. In his final 29 innings pitched of the 2013 season, Harrell allowed 26 earned runs, which is obviously a terrible way to end the season.
However, Harrell still has great stuff, in my opinion. Out of his 22 starts in 2013, he went 5 innings or longer while allowing 2 runs or less in 11 of those starts. He still has the ability to be a solid pitcher in the middle of the Astros' rotation. When pitching with the bases empty, Harrell posted a 1.07 ERA last season. However, with runners in scoring position, Harrell's ERA shot up to 17.85. Also, when ahead in the count, Harrell's ERA was a decent 4.78, but when behind in the count it rose to 6.63. If he can get ahead of hitters early in the count & limit base runners, he'll be solid for the Astros next season. If not, expect 2014 to be the last time Lucas Harrell pitches in an Astros' uniform.