Joel Hanrahan to begin season on disabled list

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Traded to Pittsburgh along with Lastings Milledge in late June, Joel Hanrahan tossed 31.1 innings with a 1.71 ERA down the stretch and was slated to be the Pirates’ primary setup man this year. Unfortunately the team announced today that he’s expected to begin the season on the disabled list with a strained elbow.
He’s been shut down and is scheduled to be examined next week by Dr. James Andrews, which is often a precursor for even worse news. Hanrahan revealed that his second-half success with the Pirates came despite pitching through frequent elbow discomfort, which apparently resumed last month during a mini-camp mound session.
Even with his strong second half the 28-year-old Hanrahan has a 4.32 ERA and 167/78 K/BB ratio in 150 career innings as a reliever, which is certainly nothing special. However, the Pirates’ lack of quality late-inning options figured to force him into a setup role almost by default. Aside from Octavio Dotel at closer the rest of the bullpen is pretty wide open and the Pirates are long on middle relief-caliber arms.

Video: Matt Carpenter has a six-game home run streak

Matt Carpenter
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Following his phenomenal performance on Friday, Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter found another page on which to ink his name in the history books. He hit a pair of home runs in the first and second games of the Cardinals-Cubs doubleheader on Saturday, becoming the first player to hit six homers in a single series at Wrigley Field and the 28th MLB player to ever hit a home run in six straight games.

Coming out of the All-Star break, the 32-year-old infielder extended his two-game home run streak with a solo blast off of the Cubs’ Anthony Bass during the series opener on Thursday. He followed that up with three home runs in Friday’s staggering five-run, seven-RBI performance, then teed off another solo homer against Tyler Chatwood in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Even more remarkable: He didn’t start Game 2, but subbed in for Jose Martinez in the seventh and promptly hit one deep to center field in his first at-bat of the evening.

Entering Sunday’s game, Carpenter is riding a .277/.386/.593 batting line with an NL-best 30 doubles, 25 home runs and 163 OPS+. If he collects another home run during the club’s series finale, he’ll be the first with a seven-game home run streak since former outfielder Kevin Mench did it for the Rangers in 2006. Only three players — Mench (2006), Barry Bonds (2004) and Jim Thome (2002) — carried similar streaks, while the all-time record is currently held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long, at eight consecutive games with a home run.