Getting to know: Joel Hanrahan
When Ben Cherington signed Joel Hanrahan to pitch for the Sox, it seemed the extremely brief Andrew Bailey era was over. Hanrahan was the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past two seasons, where he totaled 76 saves over two years with an ERA under 3.00 over both seasons.
As of late, Hanrahan seems to have found his niche; at the outset of his career, he seemed more like Ricky Vaughn, a.k.a. “Wild Thing” from Major League. Recently, Hanrahan has turned a corner and has achieved a level of success that got Cherington’s attention this winter.
Hanrahan’s career 9.9 strikeouts/nine innings ratio is certainly very attractive (Jonathan Papelbon’s career average is 10.8/9 for reference), but his career 4.3 walk/nine innings ratio leaves much to be desired. If Hanrahan wants to succeed with the Sox, he will need to work out his control issues or else the Sox won’t be able to compete in the AL East in 2013 when it comes to closing out games.
Hanrahan said he is optimistic about the season and hopes to make an impact in 2013.
“I’m just excited for that opportunity,” Hanrahan said. “I wasn’t sure what the role was going to be because there’s obviously guys that have closed before and had great success closing as well.”
This also shakes up the bullpen quite a bit—with Andrew Bailey, Junichi Tazawa, and Daniel Bard all qualified as set-up men, manager John Farrell has many options for the late innings and protection in close games. Since Papelbon left for Philly, the Sox have not been able to replace him in the ninth inning. With Hanrahan they may have found their solution.
John Farrell said he appreciates the flexibility and late inning options Hanrahan creates.
“We have created depth that will allow us to rest the closer when needed,” Farrell said. “If they pitch up to their capability, it’s a strong group.”
The Sox will have all of Spring Training to get their bullpen sorted out barring any freak accidents, of course (like Bailey’s broken thumb while covering a base). On paper, the Sox bullpen is shaping up nicely, and Hanrahan may possibly be the best upgrade of any facet of the team.