What does $14 million buy you? Well, if you're the Texas Rangers you get two saves, one blown save and two losses in the form of closer Joe Nathan. Nathan was signed in the offseason to be the Rangers' closer as they had decided that they would move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. Nathan's performance so far this season is the sole reason that the Rangers are 4-2 and not 6-0. Okay, so you could also say that the Rangers offense didn't make a comeback in the bottom of the ninth but they wouldn't have had to had Nathan done his job as advertised.
Sure, at one time Nathan was one of the best relievers in the game. At one point in his career he was even better than Mariano Rivera. But that was before Tommy John surgery sidelined him in 2010. He returned to the Twins in 2011 and didn't really show shades of his former self until the second half of the season.
Saying that Nathan had a lackluster spring training this year with Texas might be an understatement. I kept trying to find excuses such as "it's only spring training", "he's not pitching in save situations" and many others but it appears that may have been the real Nathan after all.
Of course this reaction might be a little knee-jerky considering that we're only six games into the season. And then there is the fact that even Neftali Feliz had his early struggles last season though at this point Nathan is no Feliz. I don't see the Rangers making any drastic moves as of yet but if Nathan keeps up his Frankie Francisco-like appearances in the ninth it won't be long before the closing duties are handed to Mike Adams.
All that I can say for sure is that when the number one and two guys in your lineup hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the eighth giving your team a two-run lead you need to take advantage of that gift and close the game out, especially when you're facing the Seattle Mariners who aren't exactly known for their offensive prowess.
If there's any consolation to take from this I guess I'd say that I'd rather be 4-2 than 0-6. And I also know that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels won't settle for less than perfect.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He's also a contributing writer for shutdowninning.com and the senior writer/editor at clawandantlernation.com as well as a member of SABR. You can follow him on Twitter where he waxes poetic about all thing baseball @SDIJamesHolland.
- Joe Nathan
- Neftali Feliz