Joe Nathan Coming Soon?
Joe Nathan has recently started his comeback trail to the Majors. Back in mid-May, the Chicago Cubs signed the 41-year-old reliever to a one-year deal with an option for 2017. He was immediately placed on the 60-day disabled list, as he was coming off of Tommy John surgery early last year. It appears that Nathan has begun the road to returning. So this begs the question, is Joe Nathan coming soon?
Nathan, a 15-year vet, has been a valuable asset to almost every team he’s been on. Up until his final year before surgery with the Detroit Tigers, he had been a reliable arm out of the pen. The Cubs are hoping that undergoing the procedure, and building his arm back up, will get him back to his ways of old. The 2015 Chicago Cubs took several chances on veteran relievers. Guys like Jason Motte, Fernando Rodney, and Rafael Soriano were all given roles on the playoff team of last year. Theo Epstein has now put his faith in yet another seasoned reliever.
Nathan’s career numbers are pretty good overall. He has a 2.89 ERA to go along with a 1.11 WHIP. The former closer’s strikeout percentage is just over 25%, which is almost 10% higher than the league average. His 9% walk rate is also right around league average. Opponents are hitting just .206 against him.
Nathan Gets First AAA Appearance
Nathan has made seven appearances for Double-A Tennessee, and yesterday (7/14) he made his Triple-A season debut with the Iowa Cubs. Nathan pitched in the eighth inning in a loss to the Las Vegas 51’s. He struck out the first two batters and got the third out on a soft pop out to second base.
Nathan threw his fastball in the 91-92 mph range. His change-up and curveball, which he’s rarely thrown in the past, were in the low 80’s. Finally, his other go-to pitch, the slider, sat in the mid- to high-80’s. Throughout his career, Nathan has been in the 92-93 range with his fastball, and around 87 with his slider. This slight decline in velocity is probably a result of his ongoing recovery from the surgery, and his age. However, it wouldn’t be a shock to see his numbers creep even closer to what they once were once he gets more innings under his belt.
Though it could still be several weeks down the line, Nathan should see a call-up sooner rather than later. A reliable veteran arm could be a huge boost to a bullpen that struggled in the first half. Though the Cubs still need a good lefty, Nathan could definitely make an impact on this club, especially when they look to make a run in the playoffs. So is Joe Nathan coming soon? By the looks of it, he could see his call-up in the very near future.
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