|Joe Nathan has allowed two earned runs in|
12.1 innings since returning from the disabled
list in late June.
Nathan has now collected saves in his last five appearances. He's given up a hit in four of those five games, and while he fanned the last two men he faced Tuesday he's still below a strikeout an inning, a figure he used to routinely exceed.
Is he back to where he was before his 2010 Tommy John surgery? My assessment is that he's a bit short of that, but he's plenty good enough.
Plenty good enough to be the current closer. Perhaps good enough, even, for the Twins to seriously consider exercising their 2012 option on his contract.
According to Baseball Reference, Nathan has been paid $11.25 million in each of 2009, '10 and '11. His 2012 option is for $12.5 million, with a $2 million buyout. (There are added clauses increasing the buyout for games finished in 2010 and '11, but he's not reaching those marks.) The Twins are going to pay him $2 million regardless, so if the Twins exercise that option, the true added cost is $10.5 million.
Barring a new injury (always possible), I can easily see the Twins deciding to base their 2012 bullpen on Nathan and Glen Perkins — reason to disregard any notion of moving Nathan this week in a trade deadline deal.