Harrell encouraged by start vs. Tigers

Harrell encouraged by start vs. Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Lucas Harrell bemoaned the fact he had trouble throwing strikes on 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 in his second-to-last Grapefruit League start. He has allowed three earned runs in his last 16 innings of work.

"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 is happy with how his changeup is coming along, as well as 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," he said. "I have to trust my stuff and work on getting ground balls early, get some early contact. I got in too many hitters' counts, and I have to let my defense work for me."

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

Brian McTaggart is 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.