No, the closer didn't have a meltdown. Yes, his inning of work was solid, but in the process of collecting his 20th save of the season, Nathan proved again why the Tigers should be seeking out someone with some type of experience shutting down games to help pitch in down the stretch.
Continuing on a theme from Detroit's most recent home stand, Nathan raced ahead of the game by getting the first two batters of the inning out. Then, he allowed solid contact on a pinch hit single before getting the final out of the game on a screamer down the first base line.
Nathan did record the final out and get the save, but in the process, he allowed the Diamondbacks to enter themselves back in the discussion to tie or even win a close game. No closer will ever have a perfect ninth inning consistently, but Nathan's constant recent inability to bear down with two outs is proving ever-dangerous to Detroit's cause late.
The last time such an event happened was Saturday night, when Nathan had two outs on the Cleveland Indians before allowing the bases to become loaded. Then, Carlos Santana ripped a double into the gap that cleared the bases and broke open a close game.
Detroit needs another pitcher with closing experience to rely on in such cases. Whether or not Nathan is his guy, Brad Ausmus needs someone else at his disposal that can put out mini-fires if need be, or pitch in for Nathan if he tires. Without that to rely on, the Tigers' bullpen is average at best. If Nathan keeps things together, the addition could simply be used as another piece to bridge the gap to the ninth inning.
Imagine Nathan getting the first two outs on the road of a must-win game in October, then imploding, allowing the opposition to win with a few soft hits. A situation like that would destroy positive momentum and perhaps help turn a series around. Going up against the likes of the Oakland Athletics or Anaheim Angels, the Tigers don't need that to worry about in addition to everything else.
Whether it be Joakim Soria, Jonathan Papelbon, Joaquin Benoit or someone else, Detroit needs to swing a deal for someone with closing experience to help make the ninth inning a bit more stress free when levels of stress arise.
For Detroit, it would be nice to have another arm to lean on down the stretch if Nathan remains erratic. It shouldn't necessarily be viewed as an indictment on his abilities, but a move that could help better facilitate a championship run.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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Tags: Baseball, Brad Ausmus, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joakim Soria, Joaquin Benoit, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, MLB
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