Harang stepping up as veteran leader of rotation

Harang stepping up as veteran leader of rotation

PHILADELPHIA -- David Buchanan is 26. Adam Morgan is 25. Aaron Nola is 22. And then there's Aaron Harang.

With word of Cole Hamels' trade to the Rangers expected to come Friday, the Phillies' clubhouse is losing more than just an ace; it's losing a veteran presence to help guide the new guard of Philadelphia starters in times of confusion. Enter Harang.

The 37-year-old said after Thursday's 4-1 win over the Braves that he has filled the role of sage veteran a few times over the five-year journey that has taken him from San Diego to Los Angeles to Seattle to Queens to Atlanta to Philadelphia. But now with Hamels gone, Harang is the likely figure to step in and take over as the intellectual leader of the young rotation.

This is a mantle Harang said he is happy to assume.

"The nice thing is I've been able to be around and go on a couple of the road trips and be there to kind of answer questions and talk with Morgan and Nola. Watching how guys are working hitters and maybe giving them ideas on situations. How to set guys up to be able to establish another pitch for them," Harang said.

To Harang there is a value in learning through listening. That being said, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin is pleased to have Harang as more of a visual professor of the game.

"He's important in the respect that hopefully all the guys recognize what he did tonight," Mackanin said. "He used all his pitches, he used the whole plate up and down. His command wasn't the best, but still in all, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to hold runners. And the players see that and get to understand what he did."

Harang started Thursday night for the first time since he went on the disabled list on July 1 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He threw five innings of one-run ball, allowing nine hits, but keeping the ball mostly on the ground being that all nine of the hits were singles. His pitch count reached 96 pitches after five innings, but the strategy succeeded, leading to a win for his team and for his record.

Putting a new notch in the win column is a bit of a foreign experience for Harang. Prior to Thursday's win, Harang had been the loser in each of his previous eight starts, the first Phillies pitcher to achieve that not-so-desirable feat since 1972. Counting the no decision he earned prior to the beginning of the losing streak, it was Harang's first win since May 14.

The right-hander said he was proud to break the streak, saying it was a testament to how hard he worked to get back into the rotation.

"It's been a little while," Harang said. "It's been kind of a grind this last month."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.