Chicago Cubs need Dan Haren to step up in September
By Jake Misener
After struggling in yet-another start, Chicago Cubs right-hander Dan Haren will need to figure things out in a hurry as the team moves toward the postseason.
The veteran starter, who is expected to retire at the end of the 2015 season, has made five starts for Chicago since being acquired at the trade deadline, pitching to an unsightly 6.31 ERA, 1.442 WHIP and 10.9 H/9.
As has been the case for some time, the long-ball continues to haunt Haren. His career average of 1.1 HR/9 would look good to the Cubs, who have received a horrendous 2.8 HR/9 mark from the veteran who was supposed to bring stability to the back end of the starting rotation.
Instead, Haren has pitched into the seventh inning just one time – which came Thursday against the Giants – and in that start, he was roughed up for five earned, including a three-run shot that was the result of a pair of base-on-balls earlier in the frame.
So, while he gutted it out and gave the team some innings, albeit not high-quality ones, suffice to say that his performance in his first month with the Cubs left plenty to be desired from a fan base that is ravenously hungry for October baseball for the first time since 2008.
More than a few took to Twitter this week, pointing out the work left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who was stellar for Chicago in 2014, turned in a few days back with Triple-A Iowa, suggesting that he, not Haren, should handle the fifth spot moving forward.
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Never mind the fact that in the month of August, Wada allowed three or more runs in four of his six starts. Since the PCL All-Star Break, his earned run average is over two full runs higher than it was in the first-half and this month marked the worst single-month ERA he’s posted this season with the Cubs (5.40).
There’s no denying that Haren has struggled since coming to the North Side. But if you look at his numbers from the rest of the season, you have to think he’ll come back to somewhere near his career averages, which are much more manageable.
If the former second-round pick can give the Cubs five-to-six innings of three-run ball each time out, he gives this team’s young offense a fair shot. For him, it all comes down to limiting the walks and home runs – something pitching coach Chris Bosio is no-doubt focusing on after Thursday’s start.