May 29, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) reacts during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Who is the most disappointing member of the Tigers through the first half?
Matt Snyder: I’m going to go with Joe Nathan, though there are a few reasonable candidates. After the offseason of trading Doug Fister, letting Joaquin Benoit walk, and signing Nathan, the Tigers were supposed to be gaining a lockdown closer. Fister has been excellent (when healthy) in Washington, Benoit has been outstanding in San Diego, and Nathan has been replacement level in the Detroit bullpen.
Chris Hannum: I figure everyone will be mentioning Joe Nathan, Justin Verlander and Torii Hunter – and all have obviously contributed a lot less than expected – I’ll pick Austin Jackson specifically because I think he has been every bit as disappointing as the other three with last season to suggest something like this might happen. Jackson is in what should be his peak, he’s 27. But… his defense appears to have slipped substantially and he’s slipping in the average/OBP department without showing any increase in power.
Michael Emmerich: Justin Verlander (see my previous answer on this topic).
Grant Stoye: Torii Hunter. His play has been inconsistent at the plate and abysmal in the field, but it’s his struggles that have opened up the way for JD. So, yay?
Tom Zahari: I have been disappointed with Joe Nathan and the regression of Torii Hunter. Nathan has been the opposite of what the Tigers thought they were getting when they signed him in the offseason. He has been better of late, but the Tigers will need him to be a lockdown closer if they are going to win the World Series. Torii Hunter has also been a major disappointment. He has been one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball this season and has the lowest OBP of all of the Tigers everyday players. Hunter could find himself on the bench a lot more when Andy Dirks returns if he doesn’t keep up his hot hitting of late.
Blair Tatrault: Joe Nathan. Ideally the Tigers wouldn’t now be in a position of spending precious resources to support the ninth inning, but that’s where they find themselves. Let’s hope Nathan’s recent tweaking seminar results in a permanent fix, but even if he runs the table through July, there’s enough uncertainty to justify adding at least one big-time guy to the back end of the bullpen.
Matt Pelc: No question, Joe Nathan. The Tigers were so relying on him to be the Joe Nathan that has tormented the team for so long and instead we got Jose Valverde redux. It is shocking to me—shocking how much the Tigers have stuck with him. While the rest of the bullpen has settled down in recent weeks, Nathan still has very hair-raising appearances and the Tigers appear fine with this.
Josh Scramlin: Joe Nathan by far. When the TIgers signed him I thought it was for a bit too much but looking at his track record, it was hard to not be excited. Now we’re halfway through the season and I can only cringe when he is brought in to close. 21 earned runs….closers shouldn’t have 21 earned runs. Closers shouldn’t even have ten earned runs by the time the season is over.
Sam O’Toole: I mentioned Hunter previously, but this one has to be Joe Nathan. In 33 2/3 innings, the Tigers closer has allowed 37 hits, 22 runs, 14 walks and 5 home runs. Not quite the Joe Nathan the Tigers thought they were getting. The whole bullpen has had it’s issues, but Nathan is the leader of the group and has struggled thus far.
Josie Parnell: Again, Joe Nathan, though Torii Hunter is a close second. Not only has Nathan blown more saves so far than he did all of last season, even the saves he’s tallied have often been ugly. Not to mention his obvious frustration with the media. It just hasn’t been good on any level.