By: Jeff Riger
It’s ok to wonder and worry if you’re a Tigers fan…
With all the changes and injuries the Tigers experienced from the offseason on, fans had plenty to be concerned about.
When Detroit started to tailspin after a 6 game winning streak that sent the world a message, fans were forced to wonder what happened to the starting pitching?
There have been blowouts, positional players throwing knuckleballs and even a lack of offense. But through it all, fans, at least didn’t have to worry about their closer. Sure; Joe Nathan blew a save in Cleveland that could have avoided a sweep but it had to have been a blip on the radar. He had been so good up to that point that fans were willing to give him a pass.
And, he deserved it too…
Nathan has done it everywhere he’s been. He was the best closer on the market and he’s been one of the best in the history of the game. He allowed just a single earned run in 12 innings before that 2 run blast in Cleveland by David Murphy and I even wrote a blog about him a couple weeks ago stating that he’s the first closer in 30 years that fans actually have confidence in.
Well, that’s all changed now…
Nathan has officially become a huge concern.
The veteran closer has had a rough couple of days. He blew his fourth save of the season on Wednesday night and a brilliant pitching performance by Anibal Sanchez in the process. He then publicly threw Nick Castellanos under the bus after he failed to catch a line shot from John Jaso. And, then yesterday he came into a game with a 3 run lead and left with a 1 run lead and the winning run on the base paths. He was lucky to have not blown his fifth save of the season and second in a row against the A’s.
There is just something about being a closer in Detroit that eventually makes the fans dislike you and it seems like Nathan too, has gotten to know what that feels like.
But is he a concern?
The answer has to be yes.
Nathan is 39 years old and has already blown more saves than he did last season. Fans are forced to now wonder if he’s starting to decline right in front of their eyes. The same way they’ve seen other closers do the same thing.
His velocity is down, his ERA has skyrocketed and he looked just as bad on Thursday afternoon as he did on Wednesday night.
And, let’s not forget about those comments.
How can a veteran blame a rookie instead of his own slider? Nathan has been around way too long to act like that. He also declined to talk to the media Thursday, telling them to write what they want.
As if Tiger fans didn’t have enough stress in their life, they are once again left to experience that nausea in the ninth.
From the comments to the pitching, the recent struggles of Nathan are too much to ignore. Fans are officially worried about a closer…again.