The Detroit Tigers have put themselves in prime position to contend for not only the AL pennant, but a World Series championship as well. Adding David Price to a rotation with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer gives the Tigers three Cy Young award winners and arguably the deepest rotation in MLB. While that looks nice, it is irrelevant if the bullpen does not do their job at the end of games. The bullpen, namely Joe Nathan, cost the Tigers yet another win, and it is about time they made a change back there.
Nathan has struggled mightily throughout 2014, blowing six saves including Saturday’s against the Toronto Blue Jays. To go along with the six blown saves, he has an unsightly 5.36 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. While Nathan was brought in to be the closer after a stellar two seasons with the Texas Rangers, the Tigers need to make a change. They cannot afford for their season to be sabotaged by more poor Nathan outings.
The Tigers are not without options to replace Nathan, as Joakim Soria could slide right into the closer role. Soria was closing for the Rangers prior to being acquired by the Tigers, and could give Nathan a chance to get out of high pressure situations and try figuring things out in a different role out of the bullpen. While Soria has had slip-ups since coming over to Detroit, he was having a strong campaign prior to the trade.
Another option that could factor into late-game closing situations would be Joba Chamberlain. The former New York Yankees flame thrower may have received the loss Saturday against the Blue Jays, but he has arguably been the most consistent reliever the Tigers have had all season. Chamberlain has given up runs in four of his last six appearances, but still has strong numbers with 3.13 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
The Tigers need to get things figured out in the back of the bullpen, and fast. With a resurgent Kansas City Royals team sitting only two games back in the AL Central, and only being 2.5 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners currently in the Wild Card, they cannot afford to lose any more games because of the lack of production from a veteran like Nathan. They need to make a change, and the time should be now.