Detroit Tigers’ Closer Joe Nathan has a “Dead Arm”


Apr 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) wipes his eye against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers’ closer Joen Nathan was on Mad Dog Sports Radio today, where he said (among other things) that he’s dealing with a ‘dead arm’.

That’s certainly not good news for a Tigers team that was counting on Joe Nathan as their one solid lock-down reliever in an otherwise shaky bullpen (to put it mildly). But it’s certainly not surprising to learn that he doesn’t feel 100% considering the way he’s started the year.

Nathan has made three appearances for the Tigers in this young season, but he’s yet to be anything like the guy that was 36-for-36 in save opportunities against Detroit in his career prior to signing. So far he’s allowed three hits and two walks against just one strikeout while allowing a pair of runs to score. We shouldn’t make too much about such a small sample — healthy closers with good stuff go through such streaks all the time — but his velocity has also been down and his secondary stuff has appeared to be nothing but hittable.

Players sometimes go on the DL with “dead arms”, but sometimes they can work through it with a bit of extra rest and keeping an extra eye on workload. It should be noted that Nathan is 39 years old and bodies simply stop working the way they used to at some point along the road, but he hasn’t shown his age in the last couple of seasons.

Let’s hope this isn’t something that hampers him long-term, because the Tigers clearly don’t have any other good options late in games — they’re struggling enough as it is in the seventh and eighth innings just to get the ball to him in the ninth.