ARLINGTON, Texas -- Late July for contending baseball teams can be a tricky time.
Sunday's pitching matchup between the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals is proof. Three days ago, the starters for the game were listed at TBA vs. TBA. That's not a slight to either Texas starter Lucas Harrell or Kansas City's Dillon Gee, but that's just the nature of the trade deadline.
Harrell (2-2, 3.38 ERA) makes his Texas debut after the Rangers dealt for him as part of a three-player trade with Atlanta on Wednesday. He'll follow three strong starts from Cole Hamels, A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez as the Rangers look to complete the four-game sweep.
Sunday's start continues a rollercoaster last couple years for Harrell, who pitched in Korea in 2015, opened 2016 with the Detroit organization before catching on with Atlanta. After spending part of the season in Triple A, Harrell was called up and made five solid starts for the Braves.
Now, the veteran is hoping to be a boost for a Texas pitching staff that is in desperate need of starting help because of the injuries to Colby Lewis and Derek Holland.
"It's been pretty intense but it's been pretty awesome," Harrell said of the trade. "It was fun to be part of this team, and just the game and the atmosphere here, it's nice to see how serious they here about winning."
While the Rangers acquired Harrell to provide a boost, he's not going to try to do too much. What he's done recently has been enough. Opponents hit just .234 against him in his five starts for Atlanta and he allowed either zero or one run in three of his five starts.
He's going to try and continue that trend Sunday.
"I'm just going to be myself and give my team a chance to win," said Harrell, who has also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. "That's what I've done wherever I've been, no matter the situation. I'm just out here to do my best and we'll see what happens."
With the Royals slipping out of the American League Central race and the news Saturday that closer Wade Davis will have an MRI on his right forearm, deciding to give Gee another start made sense.
Gee (3-4, 4.54 ERA) has bounced between the rotation and bullpen for Kansas City. While his overall numbers are decent, it's been rough for him in the rotation as he's 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA in his six starts. He lasted only five innings in his last outing and was tagged for five runs on 10 hits.
Still the Royals are confident Gee, who was born in nearby Cleburne, Texas, and played collegiate at UT-Arlington, can do the job to keep their fleeting playoff hopes alive.
They'll turn to him Sunday as they look to stop a streak of seven losses in eight games.
"He's been throwing good," manager Ned Yost said. "His last couple of times he's done everything we've asked him to do. That's give us at least five innings and keep us in the game. He's done that."