Tommy’s career may be in danger. Shoulder problems, such as cost him about half the season, are always bad news. Vague, undiagnosed shoulder problems in a pitcher whose mechanics have always been considered suspect? That’s bad news on the “Archduke Franz Ferdinand has been shot” level.
It looked like Hanson was having a breakthrough season. On July 9, he had a 2.44 ERA, was 12-5, and was striking out better than a man an inning, though he was left off of the All-Star team for no good reason. Then he hit a rough patch, with two terrible starts followed by two barely quality starts, then was shut down. Originally he just needed a little rest, and then he needed more, then he was a rehab start away, and soon enough he’d missed the last two months of the season and they still didn’t have a real diagnosis. They still don’t. All they say is that he has pain in his right scapula, his shoulder blade, making him one of two Braves (with Martin Prado) to have something I have. Hopefully his pain isn’t caused by the same thing as mine.
If he’s healthy, and the pain isn’t something major that will reoccur, he’s ready to be an ace. He’s 25 years old, took a big step forward in his strikeout rate last year, and only had one bad start — that borderline — before getting hurt. A healthy Hanson is almost as big of a key as a healthy Tim Hudson for the Braves in 2011.