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Joel Hanrahan needs another Tommy John surgery, career in doubt

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers have released former Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who needs a second Tommy John surgery. Hanrahan is not sure if he'll continue playing.

If Hanrahan's career is over, he will have spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues, giving all his best years to a series of bad or mediocre Pirates teams. For awhile there, he was a machine -- he struck out 100 batters in 2010, then cut his ERA in half the next year while improving his walk rate.

Hanrahan's plight since the Pirates traded him is a reminder, though, that the careers of even the nastiest relievers can be brutish and short. Here are the 2010 MLB strikeout leaders among relievers.

Carlos Marmol 138
Tyler Clippard 112
Billy Wagner 104
Joel Hanrahan 100
Brian Wilson 93
Jonny Venters 93
Matt Belisle 91
Sean Marshall 90
Luke Gregerson 89
Rafael Betancourt 89

Oof. Exactly two of those guys -- Clippard and Gregerson -- were good last year. Wagner retired after the 2010 season in a rare case of leaving on top. Everyone else's career descended into a spiral of injury and/or plain old bad pitching.