Career over? Joe Nathan needs Tommy John surgery

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Joe Nathan’s season and possibly his career are over, as the Tigers announced that the 40-year-old closer suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow while rehabbing at Triple-A for a strained flexor tendon and will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Nathan cut short his Wednesday rehab appearance and walked off the mound in pain, so the significant injury is no surprise.

When the Tigers signed Nathan to a two-year, $20 million deal he was coming off a fantastic two-year run with the Rangers in which he saved 80 games with a 2.09 ERA and 151/35 K/BB ratio and prior to that he was an elite closer with the Twins for seven seasons.

In his decade-long (2004-2013) run as an elite closer Nathan saved 340 games with a 2.14 ERA and .545 opponents’ OPS. For comparison, during that same 2004-2013 span Mariano Rivera saved 369 games with a 1.92 ERA and .540 opponents’ OPS. Nathan also ranks fourth among all relievers in Win Probability Added since 1975, behind only Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Goose Gossage.

Things were never right for Nathan in Detroit, however, as he struggled enough to get booed off the mound at Comerica Park, fought back against the angry crowd by making an obscene gesture, and simply never got on track before being shut down with the injury.

Now he’s likely facing a 12-15 month recovery timetable, which means Nathan would be nearly 42 years old upon returning. Retirement seems likely after 15 seasons, 377 saves, a 2.89 ERA, six All-Star games, and $85 million in earnings.

Ty Blach to undergo Tommy John surgery

Ty Blach Tommy John
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Orioles pitcher Ty Blach will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Wednesday, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports. Teammate Richie Martin, a shortstop, will also undergo surgery on his right wrist the same day, Kubatko adds.

Blach, 29, experienced soreness in his left elbow on Thursday during an intrasquad game. He will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2020 season as well as most of the 2021 season.

The Orioles selected Blach off waivers from the Giants in early August last year. Over 27 combined innings, the lefty allowed 36 earned runs on 46 hits and 17 walks with 20 strikeouts.

Martin, 25, injured his wrist on a slide during an intrasquad game on Friday. The Orioles initially described the injury as just a fingernail laceration, but an X-ray revealed a broken bone. Martin made his major league debut last year, posting a .581 OPS over 309 plate appearances.

Kubatko notes that the timetable for Martin’s recovery is two to three months. It is difficult to see Martin playing in any games this season.