Most will be quick to push the panic button when things go wrong for closers, and few will take time to actually give credit when things finally start to get better.
With that sentiment in mind, maybe Joe Nathan was right a few weeks ago when he told reporters his dead arm wasn't even a story. Since a few early season bumps and blown games, Nathan has confidently rebounded since, making the Detroit Tigers' ninth inning stress-free lately.
Tuesday night, Nathan put the finishing touches on Detroit's 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. It was his fourth straight game without allowing a run. Over that stretch, he's collected six strikeouts to only one walk, and looked like a dominating force once again. The ERA has dropped, while confidence has risen.
Suddenly, nobody is talking about Nathan's once heavily publicized pitching issues anymore. Even for Nathan, every performance isn't going to be a 1-2-3 inning from here on out, but a return to quiet innings, less opponent contact and fewer walks is a step in the right direction for a pitcher who looked as if he couldn't get anyone out a few weeks ago and was losing a competitive edge.
It's been a major development for Detroit's bullpen, which has often struggled to keep the Tigers in close games early this season. With Nathan's comeback, at least the ninth inning hasn't been the ugly concern it looked to be a few weeks ago. That helps the entire bullpen to look just a bit better.
Along the way, Nathan has had his share of tough situations to pitch in. He's thrown in back to back days, faced hot hitting teams like the Los Angeles Angels and White Sox and has kept his confidence throughout. Those are good signs moving forward.
Baseball remains a day to day game where anything is possible in any outing for a pitcher, but it's been refreshing to watch Nathan go from the storyline to a back story by turning things around.
As a closer, he likely wouldn't have it any other way.Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joe Nathan, MLB
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