Pirates announce Joel Hanrahan will begin season as closer

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Joel Hanrahan entered camp as the favorite to claim ninth-inning duties in Pittsburgh and the Pirates wasted little time making it official, announcing this afternoon that he’ll begin the season as closer.

While his 3.62 ERA last season may appear mediocre, Hanrahan had a breakout season with 100 strikeouts and a .221 opponents’ batting average in 70 innings. Among all pitchers with at least 50 innings last season only Carlos Marmol (16.0) and Billy Wagner (13.5) racked up more strikeouts per nine innings than Hanrahan (12.9)

He also cut down on his walks, handing out a career-low 3.4 free passes per nine innings, and served up just six homers in 294 plate appearances. Hanrahan lacks closer experience, but he certainly doesn’t lack closer stuff. Pittsburgh may not have a ton of late leads to protect, but with left-hander Evan Meek (2.14 ERA, 70/31 K/BB ratio in 80 innings) setting up Hanrahan the back of the bullpen should be one of their few strengths.

Matt Shoemaker out for the season with a torn ACL

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Terrible news for Blue Jays pitcher Matt Shoemaker: the MRI he had on his knee revealed a torn ACL. He’ll need surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.

Shoemaker was in the process of holding the A’s scoreless through three innings of three-hit, one-strikeout ball in his start on Saturday. He twisted his leg awkwardly when he ran over and tagged Matt Chapman between first and second base, however, and it was immediately clear that things weren’t right. He was initially diagnosed with a sprain, but the MRI showed that it was worse.

This is a tough break for Shoemaker, who had started off the season pretty fantastically, posting a 1.57 ERA over his first five starts this year.