New pitching coach Juan Nieves appears to be doing a great job so far this spring. Guys like Jon Lester, Daniel Bard, and Clay Buchholz, who struggled in 2012, have all gotten off to good starts this spring. However, one pitcher that Nieves has either rubbed the wrong way, or not rubbed at all, is Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan was brought to the Red Sox in a trade with the Pirates, with whom he had saved 76 games in 84 opportunities the past two years. However, everything has gone wrong for Hanrahan this spring, including but not limited to his horrendous goatee.
So far, Hanrahan has pitched in four games for the Red Sox and while it doesn’t always behoove one to go in depth with spring training statistics, there are some real problems here. In Hanrahan’s 4 games, he has pitched 3 innings and has allowed 9 runs (6 earned) with 4 walks and 4 strikeouts. The walk rate was a concern for Hanrahan coming to Boston, but he’d always pitched with the “effectively wild” mantra. This spring, his wildness has been starkly ineffective.
I’ve been able to watch two of his games this spring– one against the Orioles last Wednesday and one against the Yankees on Sunday. He was alright in the Orioles game, but was certainly not great. However, he absolutely blew the Yankees game open, and not in the good way, as he allowed 3 runs (1 earned) while walking 2 in just a third of an inning. His control was awful. He couldn’t hit the strike zone often, and when he could hit the zone, it was stroked for an easy base hit.
Hanrahan was at it again today, coming into the game with an 8-0 lead against the Twins. He went on to allow 4 runs (all earned) on four hits and a walk in just a third of an inning. A bad outing is allowed every now and then, it is spring training after all, but when Hanrahan hasn’t even shown a shell of his dominant old self, might it be time to worry? There’s still nearly a month until the regular season starts, so hopefully Hanrahan will work back to where he should be, and this rough start to spring signifies nothing.