March 9, 2010

Joe Nathan Looks to be Done

Alright...so this Joe Nathan thing has been the talk of Twitter and SportsCenter all morning.

Let's lay out the facts.


The Minnesots Twins reliever has, according to reports, a "significant tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right elbow". Now, I'm no doctor, much less Dr. James Andrews, but I would suspect that ANY tear ("significant" or not) or any ligament in your throwing arm could be devastating.

Now, according to the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune, "surgery certainly looms as a possibility".

Nathan will take two weeks to let the swelling in the area subside. He'll work with the trainers to strengthen the muscles around the elbow. And then he will try to pitch. If that doesn't go well, Nathan will have surgery that will end his season.

Here's my question...how many guys older than Nathan (who will turn 36 in November) NOT named Tommy John have had reconstructive ligament surgery on their throwing elbow and made it back?

Seems to me Twins fans should be more worried about Nathan's CAREER being in jeopardy rather than just their season.

And let's say Nathan is done for good. Where would this place him in the pantheon of closers?

Since 2004, no closer has had more saves than Nathan's 246. Mariano Rivera is next with 243 (and has close to 300 more to add to his resume), but given Nathan's short lifespan as Minnesota's stopper is it fair to include his six years of dominance in the same Hall of Fame discussions as other closers of his era?

All told, Nathan carries a 22-12 record and a 1.87 ERA in his six years as a closer. His six straight seasons with more than 35 saves (including three with more than 40) are every bit as good as any other closer in the history of the game.

Add to that a spectacular 11.1 Ks per nine innings, four All-Star appearances and two top five Cy Young finishes and you've got to wonder what sort of support he'll garner.

But let's not put the cart before the horse. Let's get through these next two weeks and see how this thing plays out.



BallHype: hype it up!

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