After a pair of ugly early season outings Tigers closer Joe Nathan talked last week about going through a “dead arm” phase, but now the 39-year-old is feeling much stronger.
Nathan pitched a scoreless inning Thursday, averaging 92 miles per hour with his fastball, and afterward told Jason Beck of MLB.com that his arm “did feel like it was a lot livelier.”
Four days between appearances probably helped and it’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers and first-year manager Brad Ausmus make a strong effort to limit Nathan’s workload, at least early in the season. They’re paying him $9 million this season and $10 million next season, and as fantastic as Nathan has been 39 years old is still 39 years old.
Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.
Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.