Tigers reliever Joe Nathan has suffered a setback in his recovery from an elbow flexor strain, leaving his rehab appearance with Triple-A Toledo after throwing just 10 pitches, according to Tigers reporter James Schmel:
Plan was for Joe Nathan to throw no more than 25 pitches in one inning of work. Exited after just 10 pitches. Spotted grabbing right elbow.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) April 22, 2015
If all had gone well in Toledo, Nathan was scheduled to rejoin the Tigers Friday, the Detroit Free Press reported. Nathan has been on the disabled list since leaving a game against the Twins on April 8. He seemed to have been indicating an issue with his forearm when talking to team trainers, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.
If the injury is serious it could be bad news for the 40-year-old Nathan's career, though fellow 40-year-old Rafael Betancourt is back in the Rockies bullpen after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013.
What does this mean for the Tigers' bullpen?
Simply put, it means Joakim Soria will remain Detroit's closer for the time being. Since Nathan was put on the DL, Soria has excelled in the closer's role, earning the save in all five of his opportunities and posting a 1.35 ERA in 6⅔ innings pitched so far in 2015.
Closing is nothing new to Soria, who racked up 160 saves in five seasons with the Royals, including more than 40 in both 2008 and 2010.
With Soria continuing in the closer's role, the eighth inning job for Detroit is likely going to continue to be shared by lefty Blaine Hardy and righty Joba Chamberlain. Hardy has struggled early in 2015, allowing six earned runs in 6⅔ innings over his four appearances, but did post a 2.54 ERA in 39 innings last year. Chamberlain, the former Yankee, has yet to allow a run in his three outings this season.
Update - Nathan felt a 'pop', heading back to Detroit:
#Tigers "I've never broken my arm in my life, but I assume this is what it feels like." ~Nathan— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) April 22, 2015
Joe Nathan will return to Detroit and await further instruction. Felt a "pop," but didn't want to speculate. Said it could be scar tissue.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) April 22, 2015