The Washington Nationals officially removed Joel Hanrahan from the closer role today, and have promoted former Kansas City Royals closer Mike MacDougal to take over his spot.
This is the second time this season Hanrahan has lost the closers role, losing it once in late April, and now again in the start of June. It had seemed at the end of May that Hanrahan had found his 2008 form. He recorded five straight scoreless outings from May 21-31, including notching two saves.
June wasn’t Hanrahan’s friend however. His last three appearances saw him surrender a combined six runs and 10 hits in only three innings pitched. Losing the game last night was the last straw.
“We are going to have him relax and pitch in the middle of the game in order to get his confidence back,” Acta told reporters, “….Right now, he hasn’t been consistent enough to be pitching (in the closer spot).”
MacDougal was acquired by the Nats last month after he had been released by the Whitesox early in the season. He has had four appearances in middle relief roles. In 2.2 innings as a National he has allowed no earned runs, two hits and two strikeouts.
This is a typical Nationals knee-jerk reaction where someone makes a personnel decision on an extremely small sample size.
Was MacDougal nasty last night against the Mets? Hell yes.
Do pitchers, especially ones that have a history of streakiness, have good nights? Hell yes.
It’s true MacDougal has a 0.00 ERA in his 2.2 inning as a National, but in his last 65 IP his ERA is around 6.5. That is including the 4.1 IP that saw him surrender six earned runs on seven hits for the White Sox this year, which earned him the pink slip.
That being said, I would love for MacDougal to succeed. He has closers experience back in his Kansas City days. In 2003 he saved 27 and blew 8 with a 4.08 ERA, in 2005 he saved 21 and blew 4 with a 3.33 ERA.
2003 was marred by inconsistency however. In 2003 MacDougal had 24 saves in the first half with a 2.59 ERA, but only 3 saves in the second half, and posted a 6.85 ERA.
2005 was more consistent but saw him blow out his arm, he did not pitch in 2006.
Regardless of the past however ‘Mac the 9th’ is the Nats closer. His high 90’s fastball compliments his slider well and his curveball can be used when he is ahead in the count.
He does have the tools to be successful, only time will say if it was the right decision.
Meanwhile, Ron Villone and his 0.00 ERA sit and wait in the set up role.