Harden will start Tuesday night in Philadelphia, then not pitch again until Monday against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field, although that, at least, is a night game.Link(Chicago Tribune)
That would put him on pace to pitch again the following Saturday night in Miami.
"We're going to try to accommodate that [quirk] as much as we can," manager Lou Piniella said. "If we have an injury or something, we can't do anything about it."
In night games, Harden is 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA, five homers allowed, and has held opponents to a .223 batting average in 37.1 innings pitched over six starts. Compare that to day games, where he's 1-5, has a 7.38 ERA, has given up 11 homers, and hitters have a .294 batting average against him in nine starts.
But is it simply an odd day/night situation for him, or is it also, or possibly more of a home/road issue for the Cubs' right-hander? His home/road splits have been quite similar to his day/night splits, and the Cubs of course play a ton of day games at home.
On the road, Harden is 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA, six homers allowed, and is only allowing a .221 batting average in 37.1 innings pitched over six starts. At home, he's 2-5 with a 7.59 ERA, 10 homers given up, as well as a .296 batting average in nine starts.
Those home/road splits look awfully similar to the day/night ones don't they? He's been superb at night and on the road, terrible at home and in the day.
He's pitched two night games at Wrigley Field, and in both starts allowed two earned runs in six innings pitched. So, that would support the argument that it's a day/night issue.
However, he's given up just three earned runs in two starts over 12 innings in day games on the road, so that would suggest it could be a Wrigley Field/home problem.
In 2008 at Wrigley, Harden went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts. Only once in those starts did he allow over one earned run. So he certainly had no problem pitching there last year. Then again, he was arguably the most dominating pitcher on the planet last year, so it may not have mattered where he pitched.
Coming into 2009 though, Harden had a 3.22 career day ERA and a 3.24 career ERA at night, showing it shouldn't make a difference what time of the day it is.
He had a career 2.81 ERA at home coming into the season, and a 3.75 ERA on the road. Therefore he's actually been a much better pitcher in his career at home pre-2009, and I showed how he was terrific at Wrigley Field in 2008. He's leaving the ball up in the zone and missing his spots frequently this year though, and when you do that at Wrigley especially when the wind is blowing out, that can mean serious trouble.
Is this just a fluke that the Cubs are overreacting about? Is it actually more of an issue of him pitching at Wrigley Field than the time of day it is, even though pitching in his home park wasn't a problem before this season? It's difficult to tell, but I'm fine with them doing whatever they think is necessary to get Harden pitching like he did in his last two night game starts, where he allowed just one run, one walk, and struck out 16 in 13 innings. Of course, those starts just so happened to be on the road!
No more day game starts at Wrigley Field is the best solution I can think of, as it knocks out both possible problems. Anyway, I blame any problems with the Cubs' players being able to deal with the sun this year on David Patton. He's spreading bad vibes.
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