Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Tommy who? In his second year back from TJS, Joe Nathan looked like his usual dominant self saving 37 games for the AL West-runner-up Texas Rangers. Not only did Nathan strike out nearly 11 batters per nine innings, but he did it while posting the lowest walk rate of his entire career. Put the two together and you have a career-best 6.00 K:BB ratio to go with his 2.80 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. All of that was enough to make Nathan the 154th-best player in fantasy last year, which is pretty darn good for a relief pitcher. Nathan averaged 94.0 mph with his fastball, his fastest since averaging 95.1 mph back in 2007, so I have no concerns about the 38-year-old showing his age this season. Since returning from Tommy John he’s thrown a few more curveballs than he did during his prime, but he’s also generating more ground balls (45.4% last year). That’ll play well in Texas. At a Glance Strengths: SV, K, ERA, WHIP, K/9, BB/9 Neutral: W, L Weaknesses: none Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: Jonathan Papelbon (PHI) Likely scenario: Drew Storen (WAS), Jason Motte (STL), Addison Reed (CHW) Worst-case scenario: Rafael Betancourt (COL) Joe Nathan 2013 Fantasy Projection Even by closer standards Nathan doesn’t throw a ton of innings, but his mid-60s-inning workload is more than respectable. And because he has such a high strikeout rate, his overall K total will be pretty good for a reliever. Texas is a good team with a good offense (even without Josh Hamilton) so they’ll turn a lot of late-inning leads over to Nathan. If I do have a concern about Nathan this season — and this is nitpicking at its finest — it’s that his 1.82 BB/9 will be very hard to replicate. In fact, the 2.26 BB/9 that we project this season would be good enough for the third-best rate of his entire career. Interestingly, Nathan’s O-Swing% was a career-best in 2012, which means in his age-37 season he did a better job of fooling batters outside the strike zone than at any other point in his career. That seems sort of odd to me. If batters lay off a few extra pitches here and there, Nathan’s walk rate should rise a little, and his 1.06 WHIP will probably go up, too. Still, the 1.09 mark we project is very dominant, but it’s still noticeably lower than the elite elites (yes, that’s two elites) at the position.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bryce Harper calls Andrelton Simmons' slide a 'B.S. play'

Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Kevin Love likely out for remainder of playoffs

NFL fines Jets $100K for tampering with Revis

Report: Ray Rice getting 'legititmate interest' from teams

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orioles game postponed for second consecutive day

NFL Draft hopeful Ray arrested before biggest day of his life

Goodell expects DeflateGate report's release 'soon'

J.R. Smith promises to be better person, player after suspension

The importance of the Clippers' bench against the Spurs

Trading up for QB in first round is a risky proposition

WATCH: Ray Lewis gives fiery speech about Baltimore riots

Some early season observations that could hold true all year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM: 'Everything is for sale'

Tampa restaurant offers Jameis Winston free crab legs

J.J. Watt writes note for fan to get out of work for charity event

Orioles VP reacts to Baltimore protests with passionate tweets

Should the Warriors be worried about extended rest?

WATCH: Paul Pierce bangs glass at Capitals-Islanders Game 7

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

Report: Brady was at stadium day of White House visit

Arkansas has leather belt to commemorate Texas Bowl win

John Angelos, Orioles got it right with Freddie Gray protest

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Bucs GM: 'Everything is for sale'

Tampa restaurant offers Jameis Winston free crab legs

Hamilton: Angels knew the risks

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

MLB could move Orioles’ home games

Duke takes over as the No. 1 recruiting class

Titans have been 'all over' Mariota?

Doc Rivers tore into Clippers after loss

Worst picks ever by every NFL franchise

Report: Cowboys not in on Peterson

NFL Draft 2015: Ranking the QBs

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.