Joe Nathan May Need Tommy John Surgery

Twins closer Joe Nathan has a torn ulnar collateral ligament, tweets Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  Christensen's colleague La Velle E. Neal III tweets that Nathan will wait a few weeks and try to pitch with it.  If that fails, he'll miss the 2010 season with Tommy John surgery.

As you might expect, the Twins "are considering contingency plans at closer," tweets Christensen.  It's not easy to replace a 2.00 ERA and 40 saves, which is why the Twins are paying Nathan $11.25MM this year.

The Twins have a deep bullpen; I profiled a few backup closer options a week ago.  If they decide to look outside the organization, Jason Frasor, Heath Bell, and Kerry Wood have closing experience and might be available.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports assesses the Twins' situation in this column, suggesting "the loss of Nathan transforms the Twins from AL Central favorites into mere contenders."


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183 Comments on "Joe Nathan May Need Tommy John Surgery"


ajp13237
5 years 4 months ago

If the Twins lose Nathen for an extended period, the Sox have to become the favorite of the division.

swick
5 years 4 months ago

Would Neshek be a candidate for saves now that he’s apparently healthy?

5 years 4 months ago

I think so, if we start seeing the Neshek of 2006-07. But it might be hard to give the top bullpen job to a guy coming off TJ.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

I have to think Guerrier, Mijares, and Rauch are all above Neshek for that 9th inning role at this point. I think Matt has the best chance for it to work well for him, and it won’t hurt the Twins TOO much in the regular season. Playoffs, even before this news, is still a huge question mark.

mattinglyfan
5 years 4 months ago

They could still trade for a proven closer, George Sherrill perhaps?

bjsguess
5 years 4 months ago

You can have Rodney or Fuentes. Your pick. We don’t want anything back either. Just pay the freight and they are all yours :)

jphenix2002
5 years 4 months ago

I’m so glad we don’t have Rodney anymore. :)

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Im down!!!

bleedDODGERblue
5 years 4 months ago

I actually came to this post to propose a Sherrill trade, what do you guys think the Blew Crew could pull in return?

bleedDODGERblue
5 years 4 months ago

I actually came to this post to propose a Sherrill trade, what do you guys think the Blew Crew could pull in return?

5 years 4 months ago

Right now I think the Twins are going to let some player compete for the spot. But getting closer to July with the Twins not having a consistent lights out guy, and the AL Central being as tight as it has been, and Sherrill posting up ’09 number, his value can go up. Now, the Dodgers are in WIN NOW mode so what piece do we NEED? Or how about, a three team trade? What do you propose we need?

bleedDODGERblue
5 years 4 months ago

What do the Dodgers need? In order of most needed to least I’d say..
1. New ownership
2. Starting pitching
3. If our current options struggle, a second basemen, maybe one with some power

mattinglyfan
5 years 4 months ago

They could still trade for a proven closer, George Sherrill perhaps?

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

I have to think Guerrier, Mijares, and Rauch are all above Neshek for that 9th inning role at this point. I think Matt has the best chance for it to work well for him, and it won’t hurt the Twins TOO much in the regular season. Playoffs, even before this news, is still a huge question mark.

CrisE
5 years 4 months ago

When he was healthy and effective Neshek had real trouble with lefties. It was getting better just before his arm blew up, so he could be an option, but he’d need to demonstrate that this wouldn’t be a problem.

swick
5 years 4 months ago

While lefties tended to hit for decent power against him, his overall numbers against lefties aren’t bad at all. He’s allowed a batting average less than .210 and an OBP of .290 against lefties. He just needs to work on keeping the ball in the ballpark against them (8 HR in 185 PA).

swick
5 years 4 months ago

While lefties tended to hit for decent power against him, his overall numbers against lefties aren’t bad at all. He’s allowed a batting average less than .210 and an OBP of .290 against lefties. He just needs to work on keeping the ball in the ballpark against them (8 HR in 185 PA).

CrisE
5 years 4 months ago

When he was healthy and effective Neshek had real trouble with lefties. It was getting better just before his arm blew up, so he could be an option, but he’d need to demonstrate that this wouldn’t be a problem.

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

Ouch. That really hurts. He is the best closer in the game. I’m still taking them to win the central. None of the other teams are that good.

JerseyJohn32190
5 years 4 months ago

It is bad news for the Twins, but another guy comes to mind when I think “best closer in the game”.

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

Who is the best then? I mean in the game right now. You are probably a Yankee fan so you are gonna say Marino Rivera. He is the best of all time, but I would take Nathan over anyone right now.

TytheSportsGuy
5 years 4 months ago

Give me #42 anyday over anyone.

TytheSportsGuy
5 years 4 months ago

Give me #42 anyday over anyone.

JerseyJohn32190
5 years 4 months ago

Probably shouldn’t have posted that because I didn’t feel like getting into a Mo/Nathan argument. However, I could never feel comfortable in the playoffs with Nathan and his 7.88 post season ERA as my closer.

JerseyJohn32190
5 years 4 months ago

Probably shouldn’t have posted that because I didn’t feel like getting into a Mo/Nathan argument. However, I could never feel comfortable in the playoffs with Nathan and his 7.88 post season ERA as my closer.

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t know about “right now”.

foxtown
5 years 4 months ago

Hahaha. Yeah, “right now” could be an issue. You might want to take anyone BUT Nathan if he’s having TJ surgery.

foxtown
5 years 4 months ago

Hahaha. Yeah, “right now” could be an issue. You might want to take anyone BUT Nathan if he’s having TJ surgery.

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

I don’t know about “right now”.

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

Who is the best then? I mean in the game right now. You are probably a Yankee fan so you are gonna say Marino Rivera. He is the best of all time, but I would take Nathan over anyone right now.

ilikebaseball
5 years 4 months ago

I take Mo over any closer in the game with absolutely no second thoughts. And I’m a Red Sox fan.

ilikebaseball
5 years 4 months ago

I take Mo over any closer in the game with absolutely no second thoughts. And I’m a Red Sox fan.

mrj171
5 years 4 months ago

At least the Twins have Morneau and Liriano back, maybe the Mets will dump K-Rod when they are out of contention again.

5 years 4 months ago

You take Krods contract and i’d do that in a sec. Thay 4th year vesting option is unreal.

5 years 4 months ago

You take Krods contract and i’d do that in a sec. Thay 4th year vesting option is unreal.

Ethanator99
5 years 4 months ago

Same goes for the Reds and Francisco Cordero.

Ethanator99
5 years 4 months ago

Same goes for the Reds and Francisco Cordero.

DWRedsox
5 years 4 months ago

John Scmoltz a fit?

Michael Brown
5 years 4 months ago

I would love to see Smoltz make a team as a closer…He would be a nice fit for the Twins I believe….He could help some of those young starters.

Michael Brown
5 years 4 months ago

I would love to see Smoltz make a team as a closer…He would be a nice fit for the Twins I believe….He could help some of those young starters.

disgustedcubfan
5 years 4 months ago

Heath Bell’s price just went up again.
Kerry Wood to the Twins won’t happen. The Twins don’t have the $$$$, and they don’t want to get stuck with him in 2011, if Wood reaches incentives.
Maybe Smoltz?

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

Smoltz is an interesting idea.

disgustedcubfan
5 years 4 months ago

Smoltz has experience at closer. He won’t get rattled under pressure. I think he could hold down the fort until somebody from within emerges or a trade can be made.

disgustedcubfan
5 years 4 months ago

Smoltz has experience at closer. He won’t get rattled under pressure. I think he could hold down the fort until somebody from within emerges or a trade can be made.

bleedDODGERblue
5 years 4 months ago

Idk if Smoltz would still have enough to bring the heat needed to be a closer. A closer with only finesse to rely? In the ‘pen maybe but not the guy you want in the 9th i dont think

bleedDODGERblue
5 years 4 months ago

Idk if Smoltz would still have enough to bring the heat needed to be a closer. A closer with only finesse to rely? In the ‘pen maybe but not the guy you want in the 9th i dont think

AngeloCerilli
5 years 4 months ago

Anyway you look at it the twins are probably slated to lose 10 more games. I don’t know how you just replace a guy like Joe Nathan and expect to do as good without as you did with him, and the Twins are in A LOT of close ball games. I’m not saying he adds 40 wins to their team every year but he does a workload and has done it consistently for a while. And I feel bad for Joe too, if this is true we may be looking at the beginning of the end of Joe Nathan one of the best closers to ever grace this game, he may not have the stats of Rivera but he is just as good as Rivera I believe.

strikethree
5 years 4 months ago

10 more games? By a guy who only pitches 60-70 innings a year? No way.

10 games is Albert Pujols territory.

You are looking at about 2-4 wins lost. (depending on who they get to replace Nathan)

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

You’re right, but even 2-4 for a team like Minnesota is potentially huge.

Closers are generally overvalued imo but this is a case of a guy whose level of performance is very, very important to his team.

NL_East_Rivalry
5 years 4 months ago

For a team that has been tied for the Division lead 2 years in a row, those games are more important. Nathan saves 40 games with an ERA of 2? I think you could lose a little more than 4, but not as much as 10… all depends on the closer replacing him.

NL_East_Rivalry
5 years 4 months ago

For a team that has been tied for the Division lead 2 years in a row, those games are more important. Nathan saves 40 games with an ERA of 2? I think you could lose a little more than 4, but not as much as 10… all depends on the closer replacing him.

ReverendBlack
5 years 4 months ago

You’re right, but even 2-4 for a team like Minnesota is potentially huge.

Closers are generally overvalued imo but this is a case of a guy whose level of performance is very, very important to his team.

markjsunz
5 years 4 months ago

I agree, giving up a late inning lead is critical. The rays lost at least 10 games last year because of a mediocore bullpen. If you are looking to win a championship you have to have a lights out closer. Heath Bell makes the most sense if the twins have some minor league talent that might be close to major league ready.If Nathan has tommy john surgery he is done for the season and maybe next season also or prehaps his career is over. If he some how makes it back he will not be the same. What a shame .

5 years 4 months ago

10 games? As strike said that is Mauer/Pujols numbers not a reliever. It will definitely hurt though.

whitesoxfan424
5 years 4 months ago

While I do not think it’ll be 10 games, I definitely think it is more than 2-4. A closer can blow a save and lose a game a lot easier than Pujols/Mauer can lose one. If the twins go into the season with a closer by committee, it could work, but more likely it will not as has been seen in the last few years with many teams. I would bet 6 games would be a good over/under.

AngeloCerilli
5 years 4 months ago

Your telling me out of all those 1-3 run games of Nathans 40 saves that any other closer they could possibly have a minimum of 36 saves HELL NO. 30 Saves is what I see from any of those replacements. I think you guys underestimate what kind of person it takes to be as of an effective closer as Nathan is. We are going to see a lot more blown saves from the Twins this year than ever. You want proof, the Twins two best internal options, Matt Guerrier has a Carrer ERA of 3.41 thats almost 1 run more than Nathans 2.75. But more accurate its 0.66 more. So lets out of 40 saves the Twins spread it evenly and it was 14 1-run game 13 two run games and 13 Three run games. Your looking at logically blowing 5 of those games. So there goes your max of 4. Now to the 2 run games, some people transition nice from set-up to closers others don’t and if they choose Guerrier who is their best option I believe than you are looking at 5-8. 10 was high sure i’ll give you that but you underestimate how big this injury is for the twins.

bjsguess
5 years 4 months ago

I tend to value closers much more than others. As a point of reference Nathan’s WAR has been between 1.9 and 2.2 since 2007. Basically, if the next pitcher in line performs decently (which the Twins have several viable options), the net loss SHOULD only be between 1 and 2 additional games lost (at most). This also assumes that you can call someone up from the minors (or sign) a new guy to take the spot at the bottom of the bullpen ladder (again – something quite simple for the Twins). Good explanation of this over at Fangraphs: link to fangraphs.com.

I happen to think that the loss will be much more significant. WAR generally underrates closers Unless the Twins have an ace in the hole I would project a loss more in the 4-5 wins range. Nathan is an absolute stud and did his job as good as anyone in baseball. Despite having some nice bullpen arms, I doubt the Twins will find anyone close to as good as Nathan.

This is a devastating loss.

AngeloCerilli
5 years 4 months ago

I guess I am looking at this differently than most people and I can tell, which is fine. The way I look at this is, what has Nathan done for this team, and what can his replacement do. Nathan is a 40 save 2.00-2.50 ERA guy and he usually comes close to leading the league in saves every year. I don’t see his replacement doing this. I see his replacement as an average closer which to me is 25-30 saves of 3.00 ball. A closer may be replaceable but when that closer gives you 40+ saves at under 3.00 ball, thats big to me, and I have a pitchers first mindset so thats where I get my high games. It may not be right however its how I feel as far as the twins go.

AngeloCerilli
5 years 4 months ago

Your telling me out of all those 1-3 run games of Nathans 40 saves that any other closer they could possibly have a minimum of 36 saves HELL NO. 30 Saves is what I see from any of those replacements. I think you guys underestimate what kind of person it takes to be as of an effective closer as Nathan is. We are going to see a lot more blown saves from the Twins this year than ever. You want proof, the Twins two best internal options, Matt Guerrier has a Carrer ERA of 3.41 thats almost 1 run more than Nathans 2.75. But more accurate its 0.66 more. So lets out of 40 saves the Twins spread it evenly and it was 14 1-run game 13 two run games and 13 Three run games. Your looking at logically blowing 5 of those games. So there goes your max of 4. Now to the 2 run games, some people transition nice from set-up to closers others don’t and if they choose Guerrier who is their best option I believe than you are looking at 5-8. 10 was high sure i’ll give you that but you underestimate how big this injury is for the twins.

whitesoxfan424
5 years 4 months ago

While I do not think it’ll be 10 games, I definitely think it is more than 2-4. A closer can blow a save and lose a game a lot easier than Pujols/Mauer can lose one. If the twins go into the season with a closer by committee, it could work, but more likely it will not as has been seen in the last few years with many teams. I would bet 6 games would be a good over/under.

5 years 4 months ago

10 games? As strike said that is Mauer/Pujols numbers not a reliever. It will definitely hurt though.

soxluv
5 years 4 months ago

I feel for Twin fans – well not too much, but a little

whitesoxfan424
5 years 4 months ago

Joe Nathan is a class pitcher who has ridiculous stuff, and that’s just terrible.

He’ll be 36 after the season, does anyone know what kind of success other pitchers of his age have had post tommy john?

Baseball is a better place with joe nathan closing (just not necessarily for the w.sox)

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

He will be 35 after the year.

whitesoxfan424
5 years 4 months ago

His bday is in november… so he’ll be 35 after this season for a month… he’ll be 36 going into the 2011 season… happy?

whitesoxfan424
5 years 4 months ago

His bday is in november… so he’ll be 35 after this season for a month… he’ll be 36 going into the 2011 season… happy?

eedwards027
5 years 4 months ago

He will be 35 after the year.

johnsilver
5 years 4 months ago

Really could be bad new for twins, either now or down the line if his arm is in bad shape, like a problem that is not going to go away until it gets fixed. Makes you wonder it Takashi Saito’s experimental injection therapy could maybe work for Nathan to get him through this year, depending on how bad it really is though would imagine.

On a lighter note, Boof Bonser could probably be made available to the twins and reunited with his old teamates again..

bbxxj
5 years 4 months ago

As much as this sucks for the Twins, this won’t hurt them as much as it may other teams. Crain or Rauch should be just fine closing in relief of Nathan but the real strenght of the Twins pen is that when you take a Rauch out of mid-late relief and move everyone else up they have the depth to handle it. On many teams, when you take away the closer, you have to move everyone up a role therefore using the weak links more often but the Twins just have less weak links than other teams’ pens.

bbxxj
5 years 4 months ago

As much as this sucks for the Twins, this won’t hurt them as much as it may other teams. Crain or Rauch should be just fine closing in relief of Nathan but the real strenght of the Twins pen is that when you take a Rauch out of mid-late relief and move everyone else up they have the depth to handle it. On many teams, when you take away the closer, you have to move everyone up a role therefore using the weak links more often but the Twins just have less weak links than other teams’ pens.

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

This looked like a cake walk year in the division for the Twins if they could avoid significant injuries, this one definitely brings them back to the pack. Let’s see if the minor league system is deep enough to cover for them once again.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

What changes, exactly? Guerrier into the 9th, Mijares/Rauch the 8th, Neshek/Crain the 7th, and two LR and one starter out of Perkins(pending trade)/Duensing/Liriano/etc.

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

“What changes, exactly? Guerrier into the 9th”

I would say Nathan for Guerrier is a significant change.
They ought to take a look at Pedro and see if he is willing to close. It might work out for both of them.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

79 appearances last season, with a sub-1.00 WHIP, I’m very confident Matt can fill in that 9th inning role just fine.

Thoughts of Pedro, Smoltz, Bell, or Wood – it’s unnecessary. Internal guys for cheap prices can and have worked for Minnesota, and in this situation, there isn’t even a need to call anyone up, why feel the need to sign someone?

icedrake523
5 years 4 months ago

You don’t know how Guerrier would be in the 9th. Some guys can’t handle it.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Same can be said about you not knowing that he can’t do it in the 9th.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Same can be said about you not knowing that he can’t do it in the 9th.

icedrake523
5 years 4 months ago

You don’t know how Guerrier would be in the 9th. Some guys can’t handle it.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

79 appearances last season, with a sub-1.00 WHIP, I’m very confident Matt can fill in that 9th inning role just fine.

Thoughts of Pedro, Smoltz, Bell, or Wood – it’s unnecessary. Internal guys for cheap prices can and have worked for Minnesota, and in this situation, there isn’t even a need to call anyone up, why feel the need to sign someone?

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

“What changes, exactly? Guerrier into the 9th”

I would say Nathan for Guerrier is a significant change.
They ought to take a look at Pedro and see if he is willing to close. It might work out for both of them.

Guest
5 years 4 months ago

What changes, exactly? Guerrier into the 9th, Mijares/Rauch the 8th, Neshek/Crain the 7th, and two LR and one starter out of Perkins(pending trade)/Duensing/Liriano/etc.

lefty58
5 years 4 months ago

This looked like a cake walk year in the division for the Twins if they could avoid significant injuries, this one definitely brings them back to the pack. Let’s see if the minor league system is deep enough to cover for them once again.

penpaper
5 years 4 months ago

This is why you don’t draft early in FBB. He’s my only dominant closer at the moment.

penpaper
5 years 4 months ago

This is why you don’t draft early in FBB. He’s my only dominant closer at the moment.

LUVCUBSGO
5 years 4 months ago

LOL HE GONE.

This isn’t a big deal actually for the Twins. They are still the clear favorite in that division with Nathan out. They could lose the rest of the bullpen and still own the Sox and Tigers. They will b just fine.

Heliosphan
5 years 4 months ago

Aren’t you a little high on them? Their starting staff isn’t that special… I’d take Chicago’s every day, and at least Detroit has the high ceiling arms..

LUVCUBSGO
5 years 4 months ago

LOL HE GONE.

This isn’t a big deal actually for the Twins. They are still the clear favorite in that division with Nathan out. They could lose the rest of the bullpen and still own the Sox and Tigers. They will b just fine.

Drew
5 years 4 months ago

Am I upset that Nathan may not play this year? Most definitely. He’s a great closer. I do think closers are overrated and overhyped, however, and that the Twins will find a way to replace him successfully.

But what I’m MORE upset about is that in a year where we expand the payroll to pay for a team that can win, we might be dedicating 10% of our payroll to a guy who’s (maybe) out for the year. The Twins have always been a tight-budget team, and we count on almost every dollar helping us buy wins. Losing a huge chuck of our payroll like this is bad news. :(

Drew
5 years 4 months ago

Am I upset that Nathan may not play this year? Most definitely. He’s a great closer. I do think closers are overrated and overhyped, however, and that the Twins will find a way to replace him successfully.

But what I’m MORE upset about is that in a year where we expand the payroll to pay for a team that can win, we might be dedicating 10% of our payroll to a guy who’s (maybe) out for the year. The Twins have always been a tight-budget team, and we count on almost every dollar helping us buy wins. Losing a huge chuck of our payroll like this is bad news. :(