Tigers sticking with Joe Nathan as closer; Joakim Soria injured

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Brad Ausmus plans to stick with Joe Nathan as his closer.
Brad Ausmus plans to stick with Joe Nathan as his closer. (USATSI)

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The Tigers lost to the Blue Jays Saturday in extra innings, 3-2, and the division lead over the Royals is far from imposing. We could wonder about the offense, as the Tigers have scored two or fewer runs in four of their last six games -- with all four being losses. Maybe nitpick on pulling Max Scherzer after eight dominant innings and only 106 pitches?

Nah:

Now, maybe Scherzer is just getting manager Brad Ausmus' back here in light of some second-guessing, but he's usually honest and I think we have to take him at his word. So I'm not going to blame Ausmus for not sticking with Scherzer.

It is getting dubious to keep trotting Joe Nathan out for the ninth, though.

Saturday, Nathan was tasked with keeping the top of the Blue Jays order off the board.

Here's what the Jays did against him:

Single, fly out (to deep right field), intentional walk, single, walk.

Joakim Soria was then summoned and got two outs, leaving the bases loaded and forcing extra innings. This was Nathan's sixth blown save of the season and he now has a 5.36 ERA. He's allowed 44 hits and 21 walks in 42 innings (1.55 WHIP). At 39 years old, it's worth wondering if he's at the end of the line. Meanwhile, the Tigers are in a pennant race. Might this outing have been the final straw? Nope:

Perhaps Ausmus feels he doesn't have a choice now, because Soria would have been his next option to replace Nathan and he left Saturday's game with a left side strain (he'll be re-evaluated Sunday).

Soria had a rocky start to his Tigers career after being acquired in late July, but overall his numbers are far better than Nathan's.

For whatever reason, Ausmus is sticking with Nathan and it seems like a head-scratcher.

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