I wasn't sold when the Texas Rangers promoted Neftali Feliz to the starting lineup and replaced him at closer with Joe Nathan. For one thing, I thought Feliz was a great closer and Alexi Ogando was there to take over that fifth starter's spot. Plus, Nathan was not the same pitcher he was before his Tommy John Surgery.
I have compared this to when Texas went out and brought in Eric Gagne, a once great closer that was past his prime when he showed up in Texas.
My worst fears have been realized. Texas is 5-2 and every starting pitcher has a perfect record. However, Nathan has two losses so far this year. Yes, new closer Joe Nathan is responsible for the Rangers only two losses so far this year.
Nathan started off the year strong, picking up a save in the Opening Day contest with the Chicago White Sox. In Derek Holland's start in the Rangers' second game of the season, Nathan came in during the ninth in a non-save situation, asked to simply hold the tie. Alex Rios hit a home run off Nathan in the ninth and the Chicago White Sox beat the Texas Rangers, 4-3.
Texas won their next three games, with Nathan picking up one save in the three. Then, against the Seattle Mariners on April 11, Nathan came in for the save opportunity and gave up three runs to blow the Rangers 3-1 lead and took his second loss of the season.
Ron Washington said the Rangers have not lost confidence in Nathan and said that the closer would be fine. Washington's actions say otherwise. On April 12, Texas went into the ninth against Seattle with a 5-2 lead. Texas sent in Mike Adams for the save opportunity. Adams gave up one run but then held on for the save. Washington explained that it was because Nathan already pitched back-to-back games and was not available.
However, the next night, against Nathan's old teammates with the Minnesota Twins, another save opportunity came up. With Texas up 4-1 heading into the ninth, it was long reliever Alexi Ogando that Washington sent out to pitch the save opportunity. Ogando was perfect and Texas increased to 5-2 on the season.
I'm sure there was a reason Nathan was not sent out for the save against Minnesota but there is an inkling of suspicion that Texas might be losing their confidence in him. I know I have.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and has been a Texas Rangers fan his entire life, watching the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate play for over 30 years. While Texas has moved their Triple-A team, Shawn still remains a loyal Rangers fan and awaits the year they finally win the big one.
Other articles by Shawn S. Lealos:
- Breaking Down the Texas Rangers' Starting Rotation Through Five Games: A Fan's Take
- Texas Rangers Extend Ian Kinsler's Contract Through 2017: A Fan's Take
- Yu Darvish Opens MLB Career with Game Against Ichiro Suzuki: A Fan's Preview
- Mitch Moreland Out to Prove Himself to Texas Rangers in 2012: A Fan's Take
- Ian Kinsler Starts Season Strong for Texas Rangers: A Fan's Take
- Sports & Recreation
- Joe Nathan
- Alexi Ogando
- Texas Rangers