Walkoff Woodward

Concerning Detroit Baseball
August 10, 2014

Hey Joe, It’s Time to Look In the Mirror

Author’s Note: I wanted to wait until today’s game was over to post this, however this game almost six and a half hours long and no one wants to win. So why don’t you sit back and read this Joe Nathan rant while you suffer through this unbearable mess with the rest of us!

It’s time for Joe Nathan to look in the mirror and stop looking at his teammates when things go wrong. Yet again, the Tigers’ esteemed closer passed the blame after another awful outing, first appearing to criticize manager Brad Ausmus for ordering an intentional walk to slugger José Bautista, and then first baseman Miguel Cabrera for holding the runner on first and therefore being unable to make a play on the game-tying base hit.

“Why have you forsaken me?” (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time Nathan’s apparently pointed fingers either. Earlier in the season he appeared to throw rookie Nick Castellanos under the bus for being unable to make a play on a base hit (that many thought should have been ruled an error). Nathan ended up blowing the save.

I suppose you could try and make the case that Nathan isn’t actually trying to blame anyone, that that’s just how he sees things, that if his teammates hadn’t made mistakes Nathan wouldn’t have been in position to blow a save, but it still doesn’t look good. Even if it’s 100% true, people don’t want to hear it.

More after the jump!

When asked about Saturday’s blown save, Nathan said, “This is not gonna ruin my day…. I’m not going to go home and hang myself because of one game.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Instead of owning his poor performance, instead of accepting responsibility for his part in the blown save, Nathan seems to shift the blame and adds in an insensitive remark to top it all off. It’s also a bit disingenuous of him to blow off the fanbase and act as if fans don’t understand the game and are just looking for reasons to unfairly crap on him.

You know what Justin Verlander, he of the supposedly huge ego, said when he got booed off the mound at Comerica Park this year? “I don’t blame them. I’d have booed me too.” Verlander gets it. To spout a cliché, you don’t bite the hand that feeds. This is the same kind of stuff that got Prince Fielder “run” out of town, however fairly or unfairly.

You want some cold hard stats? After Saturday afternoon’s clown show, Nathan’s BB/9 is a whopping 4.50. He’s literally walking a batter every other inning. Can’t blame anyone else for that, Joe! He’s walked 21 batters in 42 IP this year; he walked 22 batters total last year in 64.2 IP!

Also, Nathan’s six blown saves for 2014 are three shy of José Valverde’s blown saves—for 2010-2012. Those six blown saves also equal Nathan’s combined total of the last two years!

Nathan’s 4.07 FIP, while better than his ERA, is well below average for a closer too. His velocity is also a career low 91.7mph; when you’re walking so many batters and can’t blow away guys to compensate (see: Alburquerque, Al) that’s a problem.

Nathan’s zone contact% is 88.5%; only his first year post-Tommy John (2011) was higher, at 90%. Basically hitters aren’t missing when it’s in the zone. When Nathan was at his best, he was around 80-81% zone contact.

This year, his swinging strike% is only 10.6%; again, only his first year coming back from Tommy John surgery was lower at 8.2%. He used to be 13-14% every year, when he was in his prime.

Nathan is simply not good enough and there aren’t signs you can point at to say he’s getting seriously unlucky.

So, no, Mr. Proven Closer, the fans don’t actually expect perfection every time. They don’t expect you to be a robot. They don’t expect you to “hang yourself” over a bad outing.

All the fans want is for you to try and, if you fail, to own it. It’s really that simple.

Many thanks to GreyD Martinez for providing the stats.

The full Joe Nathan comments were posted here by Matthew B. Mowery.

  • Aiede

    A 4.5 BB/9 isn’t walking every other batter, it’s walking a batter every other inning. (As in, 21 batters in 42 IP.)

    Other than that quibble, nice piece.

    • verlander

      I’m pretty sure that’s what we meant. Blame Grey, it’s all his fault.


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