Matt Harrison is a 29-year-old sinkerballer. The Braves took him in the third round in 2003, and by 2007 he was ranked as their third best prospect. This is why he was included, along with Jerrad Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones, and Elvis Andrus in a trade with the Braves for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay on the day of the 2007 trade deadline.
So he is no stranger to being included in these mammoth deadline deals, though before, he was a bright, up-and-coming "maybe" whom the Rangers desired. Now he appears to have sadly petered out in the way that we all hope none of the prospects in the Hamels deal will.
Thanks to a disappearing Rangers pitching staff in 2008, Harrison was brought up to the majors in July, to defeat the Angels. By mid-September he'd thrown his first complete game shut-out - the first by a Texas greenhorn in 20 years. There was a stampede of younglings making their debuts for the Rangers that year, and Harrison became part of a group of dudes responsible for getting Texans pretty excited about the future.
Now, it is that future, and Harrison is headed to Philadelphia, likely because he has been bad; a right-handed 6' 4", 240 lbs. living example of the heartbreak we'll feel for one or all of the other players included for Cole Hamels. While his 2010-12 years were good - went to the World Series in 2012, started the game that clinched the AL West in 2011, pitched in the World Series (and amounted a 5.40 career postseason ERA over four starts and 18.1 IP) - Harrison had back surgery in 2013, lumbar spinal disc fusion surgery in 2014, and gave up a home run to Alex Rodriguez on A-Rod's birthday in 2015. Some would say it doesn't get much lower than that. Others would say "Holy crap, Matt Harrison, are you pitching in the major leagues after all that?! What sort of insane science is inside you?!"
LHP Matt Harrison, who #Phillies acquired, is apparently 1st pitcher in MLB history to return from lower lumbar spinal fusion surgery.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 30, 2015
So, despite his rough go of it, he's no stranger to battling back from the brink.
Harrison has been a Texas mainstay for a few years and while he's no Cole Hamels, there are fans and writers there who are sad to see him go. Now, he is on the Phillies, a city full of understanding and well-informed people who will not react immediately or throw hot liquid cheese on him should he falter. Welcome, Matt!
The Phillies' starting pitching this year has only recently started to transition from warm bodies filling space to young pitchers for us to watch and speculate wildly about. Harrison may get a shot in these last two months of the season as the team figures out what it's got in a few guys like Aaron Nola, David Buchanan, and Adam Morgan, and monitors the recovery of Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams. Or, Harrison will get called in for some long relief when one of those guys gets blown up. That could also happen. And, as it has been pointed out, Harrison can also be flipped by a wheelin' and dealin' Andy MacPhail not too long from now, should the stars (and vertebrate) align correctly.
Yes, Matt Harrison is no exciting young prospect the way that some of these other former Rangers are. But he is still on the Phillies now, so I think I speak for all of us when I say, "Did you know A-Rod holds the record for most home runs hit on his birthday (6)? That is such a cool record to have."