Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joe Nathan to miss 2010 season

As expected, Twins closer Joe Nathan will miss the entire 2010 season and have Tommy John surgery in hopes of being back and ready for the 2011 season.

"It didn't go like we hoped," Nathan said [after playing catch today]. "We knew it was a longshot, but I think this will clear my head. There definitely was no gray area. It was definitely on the dark side. We know now that we're going to need to go in and have some surgery done and get this thing taken care of."

Based on the current pitchers on the roster, Jon Rauch is the most likely replacement for Nathan. Rauch has 26 career saves, of which 17 came with the Washington Nationals in 2008.

"He's got all the closing stuff: punchout pitches, the whole package," [manager Ron] Gardenhire said [of Rauch]. "Whether he wants to do that or not or whether it's the right thing to do remains to be seen."

In addition to Rauch and other internal candidates, such as Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek, the Twins could make a move for San Diego closer Heath Bell.

If so, that would likely move Luke Gregerson into the closer's role and obviously increase his fantasy value.

After the All-Star break, Gregerson had an ERA of 3.13, WHIP of 1.10 and struck out 53 batters in 37.1 innings.

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