Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Wash's Wisdom: Bullpen usage
By Richard Durrett
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, along with pitching coach Mike Maddux, handled closer Joe Nathan well this past weekend.
After Nathan blew a save opportunity on Wednesday in Arlington against the Mariners (three runs allowed in the ninth), he was given Thursday off because of his heavy workload the first week of the season. But rather than insert him in a three-run game in the ninth on Friday, the Rangers' coaching staff decided to give him one more day.
That was a smart move. Nathan warmed up to pitch in a save situation Saturday and the Rangers got a few late runs. But since he was loose, Washington put him in the game and Nathan promptly gave up a single and a double. And maybe that was the best thing for Nathan since he ended up bearing down and got two strikeouts and a ground out to end the game.
The next day, Nathan got yet another shot, this time in a save situation. Back-to-back appearances had hurt Nathan early in the season (both of his rough outings had come in the second of consecutive appearances). But Nathan was sharp, getting a strikeout and two fly outs in a nine-pitch outing to get the save.
Washington handled Nathan in the right way and at the same time gave Alexi Ogando a chance to close on Friday, once again showing his versatility. Nathan should have some confidence as the Rangers continue their road trip.