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A long strange trip brings Lucas Harrell back to Houston

Former Astro pitcher Lucas Harrell goes from washout in South Korea to trying to help the Rangers hold off his former team.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Lucas Harrell was the hipster version of Collin McHugh. Harrell was the diamond in the rough pitcher that Brett Strom was molding into a frontline starter before McHugh was even an Astro. That is not to say that they were the same pitcher but they were both waiver claims that showed great potential with the Astros. Astros fans squinted hard enough and saw an underrated no-name pitcher that could a No. 2 starter.

The only difference is Lucas Harrell's story to a sharp turn toward the negative after his fourth season in Houston. Harrell bounced around a bit before going overseas and now he's back to face the Astros after being traded from Atlanta to Texas to help the Rangers down the stretch.

Let's take a look at Lucas Harrell before his start on Saturday against the Astros.

The Astros claimed Harrell off waivers from the White sox in July 2011 before Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow officially took over the position. He appeared in six games for Houston and made two starts in 2011 with the Astros in his rookie season at 26-year-old.

Before the 2012 season, Harrell was named to the starting rotation. Harrell would go on to have the best season of his career, posting an 11-11 record with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts. Harrell had career marks in WHIP (1.358), strikeouts (140), and walks per 9 (3.6). He led the Astros in wins, inning pitched, ERA, and WHIP.

He followed up the great season on a terrible team with his worst season as a professional. Harrell was the Astros' No. 2 starter behind Bud Norris on opening day. Harrell could never find the same groove again in 2013. He led the league in walks (88) and losses (17). He was eventually demoted to the bullpen at one point.

Harrell famously clashed with the Astros front office about shifting during the 2013 season:

"We're trying some new things with our defense, and I thought they worked against me," Harrell said.

Harrell basically got one last chance in the 2014 season as the Astros didn't have any better options. He gave up 13 earned runs over 12 1/3 in his first three starts and was designated for assignment. He was traded shortly after to the Diamondbacks.

Harrell never made it back to the majors with the Diamondbacks. He decided to sign with the LG Twins of the Koren baseball league in the 2015 season. Harrell was 10-11 with a 4.93 ERA in 33 games (30 starts) with the Twins.

Harrell signed with the Tigers during the offseason before the 2016 season, he was released by the Double-A team Erie SeaWolves in May before joining the Braves.

Harrell had his contract selected by the Braves in July and he made five starts with the Atlanta, he posted a 2-2 record with a 3.38 ERA. His walk rate was back down to the 2013 levels at 3.68 with Braves.

The Rangers traded for Harrell on July 27, getting Harrell and LHP Dario Alvarez for second baseman Travis Demeritte.

Lucas Harrell's long strange trip brings him back to Houston after being designated for assignment multiple times, traded multiple times and even playing overseas in South Korea. Now he gets a chance to help dash his former team's playoff hopes in Minute Maid Park.