|Closer Joe Nathan posted 43 saves and a 1.39 ERA last season with the Texas Rangers.|
It is being reported by Steve Amorose of Fox 17-Grand Rapids that former Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan reportedly has interest in signing with the Detroit Tigers, and that a deal between the two parties could be done within the near future.
This would be a wise move for both sides, as Nathan would get to remain in a closing role for a World Series contender (and be paid well for it), and the Tigers would finally have a solution to their troubles at the back end of their bullpen.
Nathan was one of the better closers in the league last year, much like the rest of his career, as he had 43 saves last year and sported a sparkling 1.39 ERA. His walks were up a little bit compared to the rest of his career, but they weren't anything too troubling. The rest of his peripherals check out, too, and although signing closers is always incredibly risky (especially when they're 38 years old), I would say that I'm confident that Nathan can replicate the success that he's had the past few years.
When you look at his numbers from last year, it's made even more impressive when you consider he was pitching half of his games in the hitter's haven that is the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It is notorious for the amount of home runs that are hit, but Nathan allowed just two. On the flip side, Comerica Park is known to favor pitchers, so it would certainly be a comfortable transition from that aspect.
For the Tigers, the team apparently did not feel comfortable with long-time middle relief/set-up man Joaquin Benoit closing out games for the upcoming season. He did a pretty admirable job during the regular season, but began to falter when the playoffs came around. The grand slam that he gave up to David Ortiz in Game 2 of the ALCS was a catalyst for a Red Sox comeback in the series, and his confidence appeared to be gone after that.
Benoit could still be brought back to the team to pitch the eighth inning, but it's more likely that the team turns to young fireballer Bruce Rondon for those duties. Rondon showed flashes of greatness during his brief time with the big club, and if he can achieve some level of control this season, he'll be incredibly valuable to the team.
If you're a fan of the Detroit Tigers like I am, I'd be very excited at the thought of this move coming to fruition. Just picture it, no more roller-coaster ninth innings like those of Juan Acevedo, Todd Jones, and Jose Valverde. It'd be like watching an entirely different team.
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