On Friday evening, former Nationals closer Joel Hanrahan collected his third save of the season by striking out his former teammate and friend, Ryan Zimmerman.
“All I was thinking was that I didn’t want to face Adam,” Hanrahan joked on Saturday, but admitted that it’s strange facing some of his good friends and former teammates on the mound.
“Between the lines, it’s all about business and it was nice to get the job done for our team.”
Hanrahan is cruising through an impressive year in Pittsburgh’s bullpen with a 3.68 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 60 games. That’s just two strikeouts behind starter Zach Duke who leads the Pittsburgh staff.
He’s mostly pitched in the eighth inning, but with closing experience and a great year, he might have an opportunity to earn that closing role back.
“I’m playing the percentages -- 70 percent of the time, the best hitters are getting out,” Hanrahan said. Beyond that, I’m just being aggressive, being confident and trusting my stuff. Whatever they have me do, I’m going to be ready. When the phone rings, I’m ready to pitch.”
Following his trade to Pittsburgh in July of last season, the Pirates gave him an opportunity to pitch in low pressure situations, which ultimately helped the reliever work on his confidence on the mound. He credits most of his success this season with his increased confidence.
But he also misses friends and fans in Washington and noted that it was good to see so many Nationals fans make the trip up from D.C. for the series.
“It’s part of the business. I met a lot of great people there and I really enjoyed my time in DC,” he said. “Unfortunately, things didn’t work out but it’s where I got my start so I’ll always have that.”