Joe Nathan had an up-and-down first week as the Texas Rangers' new closer.
The 37-year-old is trying to bounce back from Tommy John surgery two years ago and was brought in to replace Neftali Feliz, who is now in the Rangers' starting rotation. So far, both of the Rangers' losses this season have fallen on Nathan, one in a blown save and the other in a tie game in the ninth in which Nathan gave up a solo homer.
On the plus side, Nathan had worked two saves in the first week, but the two bad outings came on the second game of back-to-back appearances. Over the past few days, manager Ron Washington let Mike Adams close a game, as well as Alexi Ogando, giving Nathan two straight days off. He pitched a shutout ninth inning on Saturday after he'd already started warming up before the Rangers added some insurance runs to make the game a non-save situation.
Then on Sunday, Nathan was called upon again, this time in a one-run game, and delivered a perfect 1-2-3 inning against his former club on the second day of back-to-back appearances, surely giving his confidence a much-needed boost.
With the money the Rangers have invested in Nathan, it's going to take quite a bit to lose the closer's job, so for all the Rangers fans calling for Ogando or Adams to be the closer, don't hold your breath. Might as well buckle in and hope Nathan can get back to his pre-injury self, which apparently is still a work in progress. But Sunday's outing was a good start.