Joe Nathan hasn't recently been the Joe Nathan we've grown accustomed to seeing over the first half of the 2012 season, when it became abundantly clear that he had fully recovered from Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season.
Nathan earned all-star status for his stellar first half of this season, his first with the Rangers, with an out-of-this-world strikeout-to-walk ratio and a propensity to dominate.
He went into the all-star break with a 1.73 ERA, and now after seven post-break appearances, his ERA has skyrocketed to 2.91.
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On Monday night, after he'd been given the entire weekend off after two heavy workloads in the Angels series, Nathan confirmed he had received a cortisone shot to address some shoulder inflammation that had flared up after the Angels appearances when he threw 33 and 29 pitches on back-to-back nights on Aug. 1 and 2. He hasn't pitched since.
Though that news could easily be cause for alarm for many, Nathan says it's no big deal and he's had several over the years.
“It feels awesome now,” Nathan told The Dallas Morning News. “It feels like new.”
The Rangers can't afford to lose Nathan. Sure, Alexi Ogando could close effectively, but then you lose him in his current role of "guy to turn to when you need a shutdown inning or two, no matter the inning".