The Los Angeles Angels have made it an emphasis to address their pitching staff problems this offseason, so with that in mind, the team can possibly add another low-risk and high reward pitcher in Joel Hanrahan.
The 2013 season for the 32-year-old, as a member of the Boston Red Sox, was short lived due to a right elbow injury that needed season-ending Tommy John surgery in May, which limited him to pitching in just 7.1 innings in nine games where he had a 0-1 record with a 9.82 ERA and four saves.
Prior to last season, Hanrahan was the full-time closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates as he allotted 76 saves in 129.1 innings pitched with 128 strikeouts in a two-year span that earned him an All-Star game selection in each season.
The right hander had his best year as a closer in 2011 as he posted a 1.83 ERA and a career-high 40 saves. This included converting 30 straight saves and posting a sub-2.00 ERA for four consecutive months from April to July in that season.
But with that said, professional sports is a “what have you done for me lately” business in which Hanrahan is a player who is coming off a major surgery that typically takes pitchers a full year of rehabilitation in order to get back into form. Sometimes it may take two years. Adding to that, he is in his 30s, which means that when he comes back he will likely be past his prime years as a pitcher and be more of a shadow of himself on the mound.
Although that may be the case, the Halos can still take a flyer on Hanrahan as there have been several different cases of pitchers having success once they have returned to mound after a Tommy John surgery. Case and point is Billy Wagner, who at 38 years old in 2010, posted a 1.43 ERA with 37 saves in 69.1 innings pitched for the Atlanta Braves. There are also other notable pitchers such as Marino Rivera and most recently Francisco Liriano, who had his best season since 2006, as he had a 16-8 record with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts with the Pirates.
Ultimately, what it points out, is that a pitcher can be effective on the mound once he returns. It is a risk the Angels can take on Hanrahan, as he will likely command nothing more than a low-end one-year deal or possibly a minor-league contract. The Halos will likely need to have an option for the 2015 season for Hanrahan, but if it does works out for both sides, the team would have another solid bullpen arm who was an All-Star caliber closer.