Joe Nathan cruises through second appearance after Tommy John surgery

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Joe Nathan turned in a hitless inning Tuesday in his first appearance back from Tommy John surgery and he took another measured step forward earlier today, needing just nine pitches to retire the Rays in order.

Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Nathan reached 95 mph on the stadium’s radar gun. We can’t know for sure if that’s anything close to accurate, but according to Kelly Thesier of MLB.com, Nathan was most encouraged by his ability to set up Jose Lobaton for a swinging strikeout to end the inning.

“The last hitter, especially, it really started feeling like my timing was getting better,” Nathan said. “It’s just getting a little more comfortable.”

“That last batter, I almost concentrated on what he was doing and how he was reacting to certain pitches,” the reliever added. “That’s a good sign that I’m getting away from just thinking about what I was doing.”

Nathan feels like he’s to the point where he can pitch every other day, but tells Thesier that he’s working this spring so that he will be able to throw on back to back days. In other words, he wants his closer role back.

Roberto Osuna to be the Astros new closer

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When the Astros acquired suspended reliever Roberto Osuna it was viewed as a low-price move to bolster their bullpen. Now, it turns out, it was a move to get a closer. Manager A.J. Hinch said as much today, anyway, telling MLB Network Radio that Osuna is going to get most of Houston’s save chances going forward.

This comes the morning after a late innings loss to the Mariners. The closer who Osuna is going to take over for — Hector Rondon — didn’t even pitch in that game, with the damage coming on a three-run Robinson Cano homer off of Collin McHugh. Rondon has blown saves in two of his last three appearances, however, coughing up runs against the Mariners at home on August 12 and against the A’s this past Friday.

Osuna has made five appearances since joining the Astros, allowing one run, striking out three and walking one in five innings of work. Before that he saved nine games for the Blue Jays prior to his domestic violence suspension.