Hanson's most recent start on Sept. 21 was just the latest step in Hanson's plagued second half of the year. He gave up five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in the loss, even admitting that his recent outings have been poor.
"I feel like I’m battling my ass off to help my teammates out and to help my team win, and as of right now I’m not doing a very good job," Hanson told Dave O'Brien after his last start. "It was a horseshit day. I’m not pulling my weight around here right now.”
While admitting his problem is a good step (as opposed to when Dan Uggla denied he had issues when Fredi Gonzalez benched him earlier this month), no excuse can be found for the lack of command Hanson has experienced since the All-Star Game. The numbers don't lie.
Going into the All-Star break, Hanson had already won 10 games with a respectable 3.71 ERA. The .254 opponents' batting average wasn't particularly spectacular, but he was getting wins.
Just like in 2011, however, everything fell apart after the Midsummer Classic. The second half has seen Hanson struggled to a 2-4 record in 11 starts with a ballooned 5.88 ERA with opponents hitting .293 against him. The 30 walks he has issued in that span are ninth most in the National League with seven of those coming July 25 against the Miami Marlins in a win.
The current options for his replacement include Ben Sheets, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Since Delgado struggled early in the season and Teheran still hasn't tasted the Major Leagues this year, it would seem Sheets is the most logical choice.
Yes, Sheets hasn't started since Aug. 24 and lost four of his last five starts. Yes, Sheets has a history of shoulder issues and hadn't pitched since 2010 before being signed by Atlanta, but the guy has at least one thing he showed on the hill during his eight starts that Hanson almost never seems to exhibit.
In Sheets, you can tell he wants to be there. Sometimes it looks like Hanson's parents forced him out there like in a Little League game. The majority of the second half has seen Hanson just look lost or frustrated, and hitters know that. That's enough for this guy.
If the Braves want a shot at those two games and possibly pulling off a miracle in the division, they must stay away from Hanson even if it means running a risk with Sheets. After all, it can't get much worse.
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