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Closer Report: Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

With Feliz going the rotation, Texas had a big hole to fill. They chose to fill it with veteran Joe Nathan.

From 2002 to 2009, Nathan was one of the best closers in baseball. Then injury hit, Tommy John. He missed 2010 and came back in 2011. In the 2011 season Nathan pitched 40+ innings and put up his worst ERA (4.84) and WHIP (1.16) since 2000. Texas is gambling that he was just ‘getting back to form’. But that’s not a given.

The thing with closers is that they must be good. It’s not like having an average pitcher that becomes your #5 starter, or your average hitter that bats 8th in the lineup. You are either doing good as a closer or you are not. If Nathan starts to put up number like last year, then he will fail and not be their closer for long.

Next candidate? My guess would be Ogando, however as of right now he is still in the running for a starting spot. Regardless of what Nathan does, I think Ogando will be going to the bullpen and a pitcher of his caliber would make for a nice closer if needed.

At 37, Nathan may be just a little too old for a significant comeback. That said, he did get a little stronger as last year progressed.

Where do we draft Nathan? Tough question. He plays for a very good team and should have plenty of save opportunities. If he returns to form, he will be a top 10 closer (maybe even top 5) easily. Drafting on ‘what ifs’ is generally a bad idea. So if you are gambler, you could take Nathan in middle rounds – it’s a bit high but the reward could be even higher (his history and the team he plays for are hard to ignore). For the more conservatives, Nathan should go later – if someone else gets him before you, it’s okay, he’ll be their potential headache and perhaps mid-season drop if he can’t hold the job – or you will kick yourself the rest of the year. Gotta love fantasy baseball.

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