The Chicago Cubs have signed Joe Nathan, a veteran reliever, to a major league contract on Tuesday. This signing came at a time when the Cubs felt they needed a slightly stronger short reliever. His job will be to get the game into the ninth and get the ball to Hector Rondon, the Cubs closer, with the lead. The Cubs setup men have struggled slightly so far this year. Pedro Strop being the most consist, has tossed 14+ innings and has a 3.68 ERA. Travis Wood has a 4.66 ERA, Justin Grimm is at 4.85, Neil Ramirez at 4.91, and Clayton Richard has the highest with a 6.35. The Cubs need to step it up after the starter leaves, and the hope is that a veteran arm in Nathan will help accomplish that.
The Cubs have used this strategy of signing veterans arms last year. Before the season they signed Jason Motte, and in the middle of the season they signed former closer Fernando Rodney. They have confidence in bringing in guys that have pitched well out of the bullpen in the past, and they aren’t afraid to put that confidence to the test.
After the Cubs sign Joe Nathan, he will be placed on the 60-day disabled list. Nathan is coming off of Tommy John surgery in April of 2015, after pitching just once on Opening Day. He is still in need of time to recover from the surgery. Joe Nathan has been a top closer in the past, making the All-Star team six times in his 15-year career. He has a career 2.89 ERA. Along with his pretty decent ERA, he has 377 saves, with his save percentage being just shy of 90%.
Nathan probably won’t be seen pitching for the Cubs anytime soon. He needs to make a full recovery, begin rehabbing, build his arm strength back up, and ultimately prove he can compete at the major league level again. If all goes well though, he could be a major piece down the stretch of the season and into the postseason.