There will likely be plenty of scouts in attendance on Saturday at Yankee Stadium when Rich Harden takes the hill in the second test of a three-game series against the New York Yankees.
With the non-waiver trade deadline looming next Sunday, Harden's name has recently popped up in some trade speculation. In fact it could be some of the Yankees' staff keeping a close eye on the oft-injured right-hander.
When healthy Harden has ace-type stuff, but staying on the field has been a problem throughout his career, as he has managed just 128 innings three times and has never gone over 200.
Harden has only appeared in three games this season after opening the year on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle. After splitting his first two starts Harden did not get a decision on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings of his team's 4-3 win. He also struck out nine and saw his earned run average drop to 5.00.
"My three starts I've gotten hurt off my changeup," said Harden, who threw 110 pitches. "I've left a few up, and it's not the guys you want to leave it up to. That's what has cost me.
Harden hasn't pitched particularly well against the Yankees over the course of his career, going just 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA in nine games, seven of which have been starts.
That coupled with the fact that the Bronx has traditionally been unkind to the A's could make it a long afternoon for Harden. Heading into Friday's series opener, the A's had dropped 12 of their last 13 as the guests in this series with the last win coming on July 25, 2009. Overall the Yankees have taken 10 straight and 14 of 15 over Oakland, including a three-game sweep in the Bay Area back on May 30-June 1.
While the A's sit last in the American League with a mere 53 home runs and are among the worst teams in the league in runs scored (345) and average (,237), the offense has improved.
In six games since the All-Star Break Oakland is hitting .296 (60-for-203) with 30 runs scored (5.00 per game) after batting .205 with 43 runs scored (2.39 per game) over the final 18 games before the break.
The Yankees, meanwhile, will rely on inconsistent right-hander A.J. Burnett, who is 8-7 with a 4.19 ERA. Burnett did not get a decision on Monday against Tampa Bay, as he gave up four runs (three earned) and eight hits with a season-high six walks in 5 1/3 innings of his team's 5-4 win.
Burnett gave up two runs and three hits over seven innings to beat the A's earlier in the year and owns a 5-3 lifetime mark against them with a 3.74 ERA.