Mop-up man no more: Twins move Joe Nathan into setup role

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Joe Nathan was stripped of closing duties and demoted to mop-up man following back-to-back blown saves in mid-April, but with the rest of the Twins’ bullpen struggling and Nathan putting together a string of decent outings Ron Gardenhire has decided to move him into a higher-leverage role.

Gardenhire told Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com that Nathan and Glen Perkins will serve as the primary setup men for closer Matt Capps, which is somewhat surprising because Nathan has hardly looked fantastic since losing ninth-inning duties.

He’s made a total of seven appearances since the demotion, allowing six runs in seven innings, although five of his last six outings have been scoreless and his recent velocity is noticeably improved from his initial post-Tommy John surgery stuff. Nathan, who led all relievers in ERA and saves from 2004-2009, has a 7.30 ERA and 10/8 K/BB ratio in 12 innings overall.