CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins pitches in the 9th inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 31, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 7-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Nathan
In what will be a daily post, we'll talk about the upcoming season for the Texas Rangers and where guys fit in on the roster. It's almost baseball time!
For the past two seasons, it's been Neftali Feliz coming in for the ninth inning to close out games for the Texas Rangers. He's totaled 74 saves and earned AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 when he set a then-rookie record for saves in a season.
But in Game 6 of the World Series, he blew the biggest save opportunity of his career and we all know what happened from there. Now, Feliz is preparing to start the 2012 season as a starting pitcher for the Rangers, who went out and signed free agent closer Joe Nathan away from the Minnesota Twins to fill the closer's role.
Nathan, 37, missed all of 2010 after compiling six straight seasons of at least 36 saves before returning from arm surgery in 2011 and struggling for much of the year to get back into form.
But once he found his form, he was close to being dominant again.
Nathan, from July 16 on, racked up 11 straight saves with no losses or blown saves. If he can continue on that pace in 2012, the Rangers bullpen will be in good shape. Nathan has also taken on a leadership role in the clubhouse already, as manager Ron Washington even asked him to speak in the team's recent closed-door meeting to help them forget about Game 6 and move on.
If Nathan stays healthy, expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 saves from the veteran.