The Detroit Tigers’ bullpen is already in mid-season form.
The team announced following today’s game that closer Joe Nathan has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow flexor strain. To fill in Nathan’s space on the roster, the Tigers have called up lefty Blaine Hardy, an already familiar face from last year.
No information was immediately provided on how Nathan sustained his injury, but no structural damage was found, according to general manager Dave Dombrowski. Joakim Soria is going to close in Nathan’s absence, per Dombrowski.
Nathan, a 15-year veteran, captured his first save of the season on Opening Day this past Monday against the Minnesota Twins, although he only pitched one third of an inning. At 40, Nathan is set to become a free agent following this season.
Nathan’s replacement on the roster, Blaine Hardy, appeared in 38 games last season, pitching a total of 39 innings, allowing only 11 runs good for a 2.54 ERA and 1.385 WHIP. Hardy is not known for being a hard thrower, but can throw a lot of strikes, causing batters to usually hit the ball to the infield.
Nathan will join ace Justin Verlander on the disabled list, making the Tigers’ roster even more vulnerable now.
Joakim Soria, who was traded from the Texas Rangers to Brad Ausmus’ team last season, has plenty of experience as a closer. From 2007 to 2011, Soria saved 160 games for the Kansas City Royals, earning two All-Star Game appearances and high praise from the baseball world.