As part of his end-of-season chat with reporters Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said the team is expected to stick with Joe Nathan at closer next season despite his struggles this year.
However, the GM also indicated to James Schmehl of MLive.com that Nathan will likely be on a very short leash:
I would think he starts as our closer going into it, but he has to perform up to the capabilities required of doing it. Nathan, we know was very inconsistent. Particularly early in the season.
Nathan blew seven saves and had a 4.81 ERA after posting a combined 2.09 ERA for the Rangers during the past two seasons. He improved in the second half, throwing 23 innings with a 2.70 ERA, but even then his 17/13 K/BB ratio suggests Nathan was nowhere near his old self.
He also pitched through some arm issues and will be 40 years old next month. Nathan has a lengthy track record of elite work at closer and is under contract for $10 million next season, but it sounds like he’ll be on thin ice from Day 1.