James Lang/US PRESSWIRE
The first look at the fantasy spin on the Jon Rauch and Randy Wolf trades of Tuesday was available right after the deals were made, but since then, our speculation that Hanrahan will get the first shot at closing games with Rauch no longer in the picture was confirmed by the Nationals' Web site.
The 26-year-old has thrived in his first season converting to a relief role. He was once a highly touted starting prospect in the Dodgers system until shoulder problems derailed him in 2003. Working in the 'pen in maximum-effort stints has added velocity to his fastball, which now touches 97 mph and is complemented by a hard, mid-80s slider. It's certainly prototypical closer's stuff.
The one issue with Hanrahan is his tendency to get wild at times. Though he's striking out more than a batter per inning, he's also walking just under five batters per nine, and that could come back to bite him a bit more in the final couple of months of the season. He's not necessarily a sure thing because of his control, but merely a good speculative play for saves. Saul Rivera and Luis Ayala will also be in the mix should Hanrahan falter. Chad Cordero is expected to resume his role as the team's closer next season.
Nationals general manager Jim Bowden also confirmed to the team Web site that the plan is for Emilio Bonifacio to come up at some point later in the season, and that he is expected to bat leadoff and start at second base on Opening Day 2009, with Ronnie Belliard backing him up. Of course, things could change by that time, but that's the plan, and Bonifacio has a ton of stolen-base potential if he can make enough consistent contact at the big league level.
Melvin Mora, Orioles
Mora drove in five runs and had a season-high four hits, including his 15th home run. He's got 20 RBIs in his past 11 games and has now driven in more runs this season than he did in 126 games in 2007.
Duaner Sanchez, Mets
For those of you who hoped to pick up a quick save with Billy Wagner unavailable, it wasn't to be. Sanchez entered in a comfortable save spot, only to allow three straight hits. Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano poured gas on the fire, allowing all three of Sanchez's runners to score and three more runs in the Mets' defeat.
An MRI showed that there's nothing structurally wrong with Erik Bedard's shoulder, but there is some sort of internal impingement. Bedard will continue with his current rehab program, but his return date is still uncertain. While there's still a chance he will land on the disabled list, Kerry Wood may throw on Wednesday if his blister has healed enough. Even if he does go on the DL, with backdating, he'd be eligible to return as soon as Sunday. Manager Joe Torre did not rule out Andruw Jones seeing a lot of bench time when Juan Pierre returns this weekend, according to the LA Times. Fausto Carmona will rejoin the Indians rotation on Saturday. An MRI on Billy Wagner's shoulder showed nothing serious, and his problems are being deemed a "muscle spasm." Wagner was unavailable on Tuesday as the Mets blew a ninth-inning lead, but he could pitch again in the next day or two. Aaron Harang threw for the first time since going on the disabled list with a forearm injury, but there is no timetable for his return just yet. Corey Hart got a routine day off on Tuesday. Brad Penny (shoulder) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend and return to the Dodgers rotation sometime in early August.
• The Brewers activated Jeff Suppan from the disabled list, and sent reliever Mitch Stetter back to Triple-A. Suppan threw a quality start on Tuesday against the Cardinals and should be a useful option in NL leagues.
• The Diamondbacks called up Jamie D'Antona from Triple-A, and he recorded a pinch-hit single in his first big league at-bat on Tuesday. D'Antona's swing is too long to have consistent success as a regular, but he will be a spot starter in right field and provide another bench bat against left-handed pitching.
• There's nothing left to prove for Francisco Liriano. He allowed two hits and struck out 10 in seven shutout innings, and he's 5-0 with a 0.26 ERA in his past five starts. He has to be called up soon, even if it's just for a bullpen role. There's no reason he shouldn't be replacing Livan Hernandez in the rotation, but that may not happen. If he does move into the rotation, it will likely be at the expense of someone else.
• After impressing at the Futures Game, 21-year-old right-hander Shairon Martis continues to pitch well for the Nationals' Triple-A club. He struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday and has posted a 3.76 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings this season in 20 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A. Though his control can wander at times, he's a promising young arm that could see time in the big leagues in September.