Instead, the A's starting pitcher had to spend most of the season on the disabled list. Despite that, the A's are depending on him heavily for a quality start in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers on Friday.For the 24-year-old Harden, it will be the biggest start of his career with the A's trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Since returning to the starting rotation on Sept. 21, Harden has had two starts where he showed quality stuff and one where he gave up six runs on three hits and six walks over 3 2/3 innings on the final day of the regular season.Harden hasn't started in the Majors since struggling in that outing against the Angels on Oct. 1. His only action has been throwing on the side and 52 pitches in the Arizona instructional league on Monday. Pitching coach Curt Young, A's director of player development Keith Lieppman and A's director of player personnel Billy Owens attended Harden's start at the club's Minor League complex. "They felt he was pain free," Macha said, "threw the ball free and easy, breezed right through the first three innings. In the fourth inning he gave up some hits and they got some runs, but it might have been just part of fatigue or whatever."
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Ryan Quinn is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.