"We haven't had a conversation with Joel about pitching two innings yet," Hurdle said Friday. "What you'd be asking a guy to do is re-create himself in the middle of the season."â†µ
Hanrahan doesn't need to pitch two innings. This isn't about that. He doesn't even need to close games. The other night, for example, the Pirates had a two-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, and the bases were loaded with no outs. So Hurdle turned to Jason Grilli, probably the bullpen's worst reliever. Instead, he could have turned to Hanrahan. Or, well, practically anyone else. But especially Hanrahan. Just have Hanrahan pitch in situations like that, which are much more crucial to the team's chances of winning than pitching the ninth with the bases empty would be. If he's unavailable to pitch the ninth, that's fine - just have Jose Veras or Chris Resop or someone else do it.â†µ
In other words, Hurdle needs to think of Hanrahan not purely as a closer (since the modern closer is an artificial creature designed to accumulate saves rather than winning ballgames), but as his best reliever. A bases-loaded situation in the eighth inning of a close game is more important than whatever happens in the ninth inning.