Every pitcher has their “iffy” innings. For a starter, it could be the 1st inning jitters that give them trouble. A reliever searching for a hold in the 7th may struggle to gain control. A closer, however, can leave no doubts in any of his pitches.
When Joel Hanrahan enters the game in the 9th, nobody in the black in gold doubts him, either.
Hanrahann’s dominance as of late can be attributed to his fastball. After Tuesday’s game, he had struck out 12 batters in the past 9 innings. His 18th save came in a 1-0 win over the Astros, third best in the league. Mind you, he is a perfect 18-for-18, as well.
These are solid numbers which beg two questions, can he be an All-Star and will he be moved at the trade deadline?
Like the title suggests, a closer cannot be voted into the Midsummer Classic by the fans. But while the Pirates lack a true offensive All Star caliber player, all signs point to a Hanrahan nod.
Also, Hanrahan is lucrative to many teams. His on field performance has already turned heads, but its his contract that opens eyes. He is making just $1.4 million this year and next. With arbitration forthcoming, his cash flow could skyrocket. With all the intangibles, its clear that a large basket of goods would surely come Pittsburgh’s way in exchange for Hanrahan. If the Bucs are serious about contending, though, they hold on to him. Furthermore, if they’re in the thick of things later on, they open up the checkbooks and pay a potentially legendary closer.
It may be manager Clint Hurdle that has other plans, though.
Hurdle has shuffled the bullpen many times this year. And its paid off. A mix of fresh faces from the minors has created a solid force of relievers. With his tendencies, it could be easy to find a replacement for Hanrahan.
Right now, the Pirates best move is to keep on keeping on with Hanrahan. With the way things are going, he will be tipping his cap in Chase Field on national TV.