Joel Hanrahan not living up to expectations

Updated: August 23, 2010, 6:52 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

I remember where I was when Octavio Dotel was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline. Ah, how memorable it was. In a deep league in which every save will matter, I quickly went to free agency and signed replacement Joel Hanrahan. I was sure Hanrahan was the guy, over Evan Meek, and it turned out that was the case.

Of course, the Hanrahan signing hardly helped that particular fantasy team, because Sunday's save was the big right-hander's second in more than three weeks of August. That's it. It's still two more saves than Meek has earned, but the Pirates win so infrequently -- five wins in August entering Monday -- that it hasn't mattered who serves as closer. Hanrahan has both the team's August saves. How sad.

I would have been better off ignoring Hanrahan for a better relief pitcher. He hasn't helped in ERA or WHIP, either (7.04 ERA, 1.71 WHIP). It's impossible to predict saves, even for closers on the best teams, let alone the worst. Mariano Rivera has pitched well in August but has only three saves. Opportunities knock in different ways … but I'll tell you this: I'm not going to worry about Hanrahan or any Pirates relief pitcher the rest of this season. Even Meek, an All-Star in July, has burned those who signed him, as his August ERA is 8.59 and he's got more walks than strikeouts.

The thing is, I can't find any other team I would simply ignore for saves. The Baltimore Orioles have played considerably better since former ESPN pal Buck Showalter has lit the team's fire, and I think Koji Uehara is the choice going forward. As colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft noted Thursday, Uehara has been the team's most effective reliever. On Sunday, Uehara finally earned a save.

Aaron Heilman is an ordinary relief pitcher, but it's clear the Arizona Diamondbacks trust him, and he's getting chances. And even the floundering New York Mets, now rid of Francisco Rodriguez possibly forever, seem committed to Hisanori Takahashi. Manager Jerry Manuel made that announcement after last Monday's game. The Mets had a 4-3 week, and more save chances should be pending. Takahashi over Hanrahan for fantasy purposes … definitely. Twenty-nine closers over Hanrahan for opportunities the rest of the way … it sure looks that way.