Mar 14, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
#1 Will Joe Nathan be closing games in September?
About a week ago I wrote that the Detroit Tigers were in denial about Joe Nathan’s eroding skills and that they seemed destined for failure by turning to him nearly every night when the game is on the line.
Surprisingly I received some push back from the learned readers of Motor City Bengals. That all made great points saying there was no other clear option, perhaps 2014 was truly just an aberration for the aging closer and that I was off-base.
I may have been–but I may have been off-base because perhaps the Tigers are not blind to Nathan’s struggles after all, at least that is according to a recent Tweet from the Detroit News’ Tony Paul:
"— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) March 22, 2015"
This was a point I made in my article. There is nothing SHOCKING about a 40-year old suddenly losing it. The fact that Nathan has been recording outs a little more consistently since surrendering six-runs a few weeks back is irrelevant when his pitch speed and location are off and he is recording outs with smoke and mirrors–that will change when he’s facing major leaguers on an everyday basis.
So with all that said, does Nathan stay the closer throughout the season? Paul seems to be think he won’t be, but I guess stranger things have happened and he could be somewhat reliable, as he was (in fairness) during the stretch run last year.
My next question is, however, if the Tigers think Nathan will be released because he doesn’t have it anymore, why wait until May? In a newly hotly contested AL Central, a couple of blown saves could swing the race, especially early.
In April and half of May, 25 of their first 28 games are against AL Central foes. You need a reliable closer through that stretch.