PITTSBURGH - JULY 19: Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates points to his teammate Andrew McCutchen #22 after making a catch on a warning track in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during the game on July 19, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
"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 ...
"(Pitching coach Ray Searage) is firm in his belief that a five-out save right now can be a very big reach for Joel," Hurdle said. "We did it one time in Cincinnati and, fortunately, we got a double-play ball on the third or fourth pitch."
Ugh. The problem isn't that Hanrahan needs to have two-inning saves. (And if he were unable to go two innings, that would be odd, since he frequently did so in 2008 and 2009.) The problem is that Hanrahan isn't being used in high-leverage situations and, in some cases, isn't being used at all in hotly-contested games. If the Pirates have to use him with no outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, they can just have someone else pitch the ninth. There is no law that requires Hanrahan to be the one who saves games.
It sounds like Hurdle is still beginning with the assumption that Hanrahan has to be the one who collects the saves. Which is really, really silly, and it boggles the mind that some guy invented a statistic 50 years ago and now managers are gearing their reliever usage around that statistic, rather than around winning games.