Harris proving to be valuable addition to bullpen

Houston claimed righty off waivers Nov. 3 from D-backs

Harris proving to be valuable addition to bullpen

SEATTLE -- Much was made in the offseason about the big-ticket additions to the Astros bullpen by signing Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Joe Thatcher -- moves that have paid dividends considering the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball so far.

But the first move came when the Astros claimed right-hander Will Harris off waivers Nov. 3 from the D-backs. He came to spring camp as a long shot to make the team, but an injury to Josh Fields gave Harris an opportunity that he's taken advantage of. He has been scoreless in his first five appearances with the Astros and 21 in a row since last season.

"I know I've been on a little bit of a run," he said. "I had some family members tell me. I didn't know the details of it."

Harris primarily throws two pitches, a cut fastball and a curveball. He credited pitching coach Brent Strom with helping him change the grip of his breaking ball and getting his velocity back to what it was a couple of seasons ago.

"I felt like I had a much harder, sharper breaking ball than I had last year and we kind of worked on it one day and figured out something in my grip," he said. "That's definitely been the main thing is my curveball has been a little harder, a little sharper than it has been in the past."

Harris, 30, stands out because of his ability to get left-handers out. Prior to Wednesday, left-handers were hitting .219 against him, while right-handers hit .289.

"We thought he would come in and make a case to make our team," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's a good arm with angle and good pitches. It's been a nice addition and arguably one of our more valuable guys down there."

Harris, who was born in Houston but grew up in Louisiana and played at LSU, appears to have found a home with the Astros.

"We've got a really good group here," he said. "I'm enjoying being here and being around the guys in the clubhouse and things like that. It's just an opportunity to try and pitch well and help us win."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.