Braves pitcher Alex Wood along with Julio Teheran, Aaron Harang and either David Hale or Gus Schlosser will make up Atlanta’s four-man pitching rotation to start the season. (Reuters)
LAKELAND, Fla. — Aaron Harang, a veteran pitcher the Braves signed off the figurative scrap heap one week before opening day, now is scheduled to start the April 8 home opener against the Mets.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves plan to start Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Harang in that order against Milwaukee in the season-opening series that begins Sunday at Milwaukee, with either David Hale or Gus Schlosser — the fourth spot in the rotation hasn’t been decided — starting the April 4 series opener at Washington.
One of the rookies, Hale or Schlosser, will be in the four-man rotation to begin the season, and the other is likely to go to the bullpen, Gonzalez said. Because of two off days in the eight days of the season, the Braves can and will go with four starters on regular rest until they add recently signed Ervin Santana to the rotation.
Santana, who signed March 12, made his second Grapefruit League start Tuesday against the Tigers and is expected to join the Braves rotation on April 12 against Washington. That could be moved up two or three days, but for now the Braves plan to keep him on a regular progression, making three more starts — in minor league games — to build arm strength before his regular season debut.
The Braves signed Harang to a one-year contract Monday, hours after he was released by the Indians and a few hours after the Braves gave veteran starting pitcher Freddy Garcia his unconditional release.
Harang had a 2.00 ERA in four major league spring-training games (two starts) for the Indians this spring, and also pitched in two minor league games, going six innings Friday.
He was 5-12 with a 5.40 ERA in 26 starts last season for Seattle and the New York Mets, after going 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 179-2/3 innings for the Dodgers in 2012.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander has a 110-116 career record and 4.28 ERA in 325 games (319 starts) over 12 seasons with six teams, including parts of 11 seasons in the National League. Harang spent eight years with the Reds and had consecutive 16-win seasons in 2006-2007, totaling 434 strikeouts in 466 innings over that two-year span.
Harang was expected to arrive in Braves camp Tuesday while the team was in Lakeland playing the Tigers. He’ll make his Braves debut Thursday with a start against the Tigers in another game at Lakeland. Wood, who had been scheduled to start that game, will instead pitch in a minor league game that day, Gonzalez said.