Will Joel Hanrahan Be Able to Handle Being the Boston Red Sox closer?

By Justin Söderberg
Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

After former Boston Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon, bolted for the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2011 season, the Red Sox have been in need of a full-time closer.

During the 2011 offseason, the Red Sox traded Josh Reddick to the Oakland Athletics for Andrew Bailey (a decision that was made in order to get an all-star back at Fenway Park). However, it didn’t turn out that way, as Bailey needed thumb surgery and missed most of the 2012 season.

The Red Sox would try Alfredo Aceves in the closer role to start the 2012 season. Aceves struggled in his first few outings, but found his form and served as a adequate closer while Bailey recovered. When Bailey returned, he took over the role as team closer, but didn’t perform the way the Red Sox would’ve hoped.

This past offseason, the Red Sox made another trade for an all-star closer. This time they acquired Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates in another deal the Red Sox were hoping to have turn out well and get back to the place they were, when Papelbon was in a Red Sox uniform.

It’s hard to determine how well a closer will pitch in the regular season based on his spring training outings since they don’t come in during save situations. However, you can get a sense of what you might expect. This spring, Hanrahan has tossed four innings of work, posting a 0-1 record and giving up six earned runs for a 13.50 ERA in five games. These statistics are not what Red Sox coaches, front office and fans want to see from their all-star closer.

The question becomes, will Hanrahan be the same closer he was for the Pirates? The bright lights and difficult media in Boston will be tough on the the pitcher. Coming into a close game in the ninth inning at Fenway Park is a stressful situation and is extremely more difficult than doing the same at PNC Park.

The Red Sox organization will give him the shot to become the next great closer for the city of Boston. Time will tell if Hanrahan struggles to handle the pressure of being the Red Sox closer.

Justin Soderberg is a Boston Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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