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Astros 40 in 40: Will Harris

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Another arm in a suddenly crowded bullpen.

The Colorado Rockies drafted Will Harris in the ninth round of the 2006 MLB draft out of Louisiana State University. Harris made his major league debut in 2012 appearing in 20 games for the Rockies, but struggled to find his footing in the offensive friendly Coors Field.

Harris was claimed off of waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks just one week into the 2013 season. Over the next two seasons Harris made 90 appearances for the Diamondbacks. He put together a strong 2013, pitching to a 2.91 ERA, 2.74 FIP and racking up 3.53 SO/W. Harris spent most of 2014 bouncing between AAA and the major and saw his numbers suffer. While Harris only managed a 4.34 ERA in his follow up campaign with the Diamondback, he still managed a very respectable 3.20 FIP and was actually able to improve upon his strikeout ratios.

The "down" season allowed the Astros to pick Will Harris up off the scrap heap so to speak, claiming him off of waivers following the 2014 season. Harris couldn’t have dreamed up a better landing spot than Houston. Having limped along with a piecemeal bullpen for years the Astros were able to offer Harris an extended opportunity.Harris rewarded the Astros handsomely with a 1.90 ERA in 71 innings pitched. Down the stretch Harris along with most of the Astros bullpen showed signs of wear from a heavy workload, struggling to a 4.15 ERA during September and October.

Coming into the 2016 season, Harris finds himself in a very different situation than he did a year ago. After acquiring Ken Giles from the Phillies and re-signing Tony Sipp the Astros bullpen boasts both depth and quality.

Assuming Giles slots in to the closer role and Luke Gregerson moves into the eighth inning role, Harris will find himself primarily in the mix for early relief work. Manager AJ Hinch will have a number of other right handed options to go to, most notably Josh Fields and Pat Neshek. With a bullpen loaded with right-handed pitchers, Harris will have to produce if he wants to keep his spot in the pecking order.

While the bullpen hierarchy will be a point of interest for fans as spring training gets under way and the team starts to take shape, ultimately the quality depth should serve the Astros well and hopefully keep the bullpen sharp down the stretch. If Harris can replicate the success he had last year and Hinch can manage to limit his usage, Harris could just find himself playing a pivotal role deep into October…but lets not get ahead of ourselves it is only February after all.