Harrell impresses despite trouble throwing strikes

Astros starter Lucas Harrell bemoaned the fact he had trouble throwing strikes Thursday night against the Tigers, but the fact he was still able to deliver a strong start was certainly a good sign.

Harrell worked five innings and allowed three hits, two runs and three walks against Detroit in Lakeland, Fla., in his second-to-last Grapefruit League start. He has allowed only three earned runs in his last 16 innings of work this spring.

“I was struggling throwing strikes,” Harrell said. “I was leaking out a little bit early and my arm wasn’t getting up, so it’s something I’ll definitely work on next time. I feel like my sinker was pretty good, but just when you get behind you have to throw pitches guys can hit. I felt a couple of times I got myself into trouble.”

Harrell, who has one start remaining in Florida, said he’s happy with how his changeup is coming along and the effectiveness of his curveball. His sinker, his bread-and-butter pitch, was sharp on Thursday, but his cutter was up in the zone.

“It’s something I’m really going to address over the next three or four days and make sure I get that right going into the season,” Harrell said. “I have to trust my stuff and work on getting ground balls early, get some early contact. I got in too many hitter’s counts, and I have to let my defense work for me.”

Harrell will start for the Astros on April 2 against the Rangers, who announced Yu Darvish will pitch against Houston that night.

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