Washington Nationals: Handicapping The Race For Closer

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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JOE NATHAN- 1000-1

Although it was noble for the Nationals to offer the veteran a chance in camp, it is hard to see Joe Nathan having a place on the 25-man roster this April, let alone the closer’s role.

With a fastball topping 92-mph in a tailwind, Nathan has yet to mix his off-speed pitches with a flat fastball that can fool anybody. When he finds the strike zone, balls get hit. Pitches dance around too often and opposing hitters wait him out.

Eighth on the all-time saves list with a resume that will garner Hall of Fame discussion, if Nathan wished to wow us and win, he likely is disappointed.

You can close and not throw fireballs, but you need to baffle hitters with changing speed and precision within the zone. Nathan has not done that. Some of that is understandable rust, but most comes with age and a body not doing what is expected.

Maybe, he can eat an inning in a lost cause game or bridge a fifth or sixth inning gap, but in no way should he be on the mound in any high-leverage situation.

Nathan gave it a go. Under the right circumstances, he can be productive. On a contender, it is a recipe for disaster.