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Joe Nathan blows second straight save opportunity

Apr 16, 2011, 8:55 PM EDT

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Twins closer Joe Nathan is only 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery, a procedure that can take up to 18 months to fully recover from.

And it’s really beginning to show.

Nathan blew his second consecutive save opportunity on Saturday afternoon in Minnesota’s 4-3 loss to the Rays. He entered in the ninth inning to a 3-2 lead but gave up a solo home run to Ben Zobrist, the first batter he faced, and then walked two batters before getting yanked. Jose Mijares surrendered the Rays’ fourth run just a few hitters later as the Rays stormed the field in celebration.

Nathan averaged 93.6 MPH with his fastball in 2009 and 93.5 MPH in 2008. From 2005-2007 it averaged 94.8 MPH. This year, that pitch is clocking in at just 91.2 MPH.

And it’s not just about the velocity. When Nathan is at his best, he doesn’t walk batters very often. But he has already issued five free passes against only three strikeouts through 5 1/3 frames this season.

The Twins may need to hand closing duties off to another reliever while Nathan builds his arm strength in low pressure situations. Matt Capps hasn’t looked sharp in recent appearances, but he would probably be the guy if the Minnesota coaching staff should decide that a change needs to be made.

  1. Old Gator - Apr 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM

    I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the Twins so far this season – they play in unnatural meteorological conditions, by choice no less – but the tiny sensors on the fringes of my attention span seem to have collected data particulate that indicates they’ve been imploding in the late innings quite a bit lately. If Nathan hasn’t recovered, why not ease up on him a bit and let him pitch some rehab? If that new tendon blows because they’ve been trotting him out there prematurely, it’s going to cost the team a lot more than a couple of blown saves in April, no?

    • cavredleg15 - Apr 17, 2011 at 4:34 AM

      O-G no slams at the team that dealt him the two blown saves. For shame~
      All kidding aside, I don’t think his velocity or recovery time is the problem. I agree with Realtors. Location, Location, Location.
      Nathan still can hurl it. but he can’t locate it right now. Rehab should be next.

      • Old Gator - Apr 17, 2011 at 10:31 PM

        I don’t slam the Razed per se. That would be like flipping over one of those beggars on the little wheeled carts. I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

        Now the architectural pig’s breakfast of a dump they play in, well, that’s another story….

  2. tomemos - Apr 16, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    But Chris Fiorentino would still rather have him that Matt Cain. And he’d rather have Soria than Cain too, even though Soria gave up 3 runs on Friday.

    • cktai - Apr 17, 2011 at 6:12 AM

      Yes but the only reason why that seems odd to us is because we are brainwashed.

      • Old Gator - Apr 17, 2011 at 10:47 AM

        Not me. I still have my original dirty mind.

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