Hanrahan Goes Back on DL, Tazawa will be Red Sox Closer
As the month of April ended, all seemed well in Red Sox Nation. The hometown team had one of the best April’s in franchise history, and the only minor concern was the closer situation with Joel Hanrahan on the Disabled List. Less than two weeks into May, and the closer situation, and the Red Sox performance has taken a turn for the worst.
Joel Hanrahan struggled right out of the gate this season with the Red Sox. To start the season he didn’t have any clean saves. Every save he made, came only after getting into major jams in the 9th inning. On April 10th, with the Red Sox leading the Baltimore Orioles by two runs, Hanrahan came on to pitch the top of the 9th inning. Hanrahan didn’t last even make it to the end of the inning as he gave up 5 earned runs in two thirds of an inning.
That game was Hanrahan’s first official blown save of the season, and three days later he was called upon to pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hanrahan wasn’t even able to get an out as he walked two batters and then was taken out if the game.
After the game against Tampa Bay the Red Sox announced Hanrahan had been playing through a forearm injury and was placed on the 15-Day DL. I don’t like to accuse players of faking injuries, but when it comes to pitchers it is very easy for a team to use the excuse that the pitcher was already playing hurt and that’s why he wasn’t performing at his expected level. In all likeliness, the Red Sox shut Hanrahan down to help get his mind together to be able to perform better.
The 15 days off didn’t help. In his second game back he was called upon to close a game against the Blue Jays. This move was a shock to most fans as Manager John Farrell had announced that Andrew Bailey, who had pitched well in Hanrahan’s absence, was now the closer. Hanrahan hushed some critics when he got the save against the Blue Jays.
After the game in Toronto John Farrell stated he had called upon Hanrahan to close the game because Bailey was battling a biceps injury. In a one week time period, Joel Hanrahan went from being a closer, to not being a closer, and then back to being a closer. In Hanrahan’s first game as the “official closer” he blew another save, this time against the Minnesota Twins.
The Red Sox went onto win the game in extra innings, but as soon as the game was over Hanrahan and the Red Sox had another excuse ready. Again, they said it was his forearm injury and needed to be shut down again.
Hanrahan claiming he was injured as soon as a game was over is like a child in school telling the teacher he was sick, and that’s why he failed his last test. Hanrahan was placed back on the 15 Day DL and hopefully this time he’ll come back stronger and ready to play. If Hanrahan comes back and the same thing happens, I don’t think the Red Sox fans will be forgiving or will even believe when he says it was due to an injury.
As for the Closer situation now, John Farrell is going with Junichi Tazawa. In 16 appearances this season Tazawa has posted an ERA of 2.51 with 18 strikeouts. With the Red Sox struggling against the Twins, Tazawa hasn’t had a chance to get prove he is closer material, but chances are he will get a chance sometime in the next week, and when Hanrahan gets off the DL, he’ll be competing with two players for the closers role.