The Post-Gazette has an article on Joel Hanrahan and the reliever's path to the All-Star Game. Hanrahan recently got a congratulatory note from Nationals president Stan Kasten, which brought back memories of Hanrhan's troubles with his old team.
I thought that was strange, but I definitely appreciated it because he saw me go through all those struggles and how hard I worked to try and get through them. He saw me sitting there next to my locker, head in hands, trying to find out answers to everything I was going through."
It's not that Hanrahan hasn't improved. He's walking a lot fewer batters than he used to. He's also throwing harder and keeping the ball down. But his "struggles" with Washington are somewhat overstated. He was a good pitcher for them beginning after his rookie season in 2007. In 2008, he struck out 93 batters in 84.1 innings; in 2009, he struck out 35 in 32.2 innings before being traded. The problem was that he was being cut up by the Nationals' butcheriffic defense. That Hanrahan would be this good as a Pirate might have required a bit of imagination. That he would be good was imminently foreseeable.