Ausmus: Ankle prevented Joba from pitching ninth
The price of relief pitching likely just went up on the trade market. Whether the level of disorder in the Tigers bullpen did is another matter.
While Joe Nathan remains the Tigers closer, he was not necessarily the automatic choice to pitch the ninth inning. Brad Ausmus said after Nathan’s three-run ninth that he wanted to keep Joba Chamberlain in the game for the ninth inning (he used just six pitches in the eighth) until his ankle became an inning.
“We were going to send him back out there,” Ausmus said. “Ankle was bothering him. I don’t expect it to be an issue tomorrow. We were considering that.”
It’s an either-or situation with a tie game in the ninth inning, especially since neither had pitched since last weekend. With no save situation, there’s no reason to save the closer. If the setup man is the better pitcher, though, there’s nothing requiring the closer, either.
Whether the lack of work left Nathan rusty, the results weren’t pretty.
“I don’t know if it was the layoff or what,” Ausmus said. “He seemed to have trouble with his command a little bit. Fastball kept riding. Two-seamer kept riding quite a bit away from lefties and into righties.”
Said catcher Alex Avila: “His sinker was really moving a lot, probably a lot more than normal, and he was having a tough time commanding it. That’s been a big pitch for him lately. It’s been working really well. He hasn’t pitched in a while, and today you could just tell he didn’t have a real good feel for it.”
As for Chamberlain closing, Ausmus said, “I haven’t considered that at this point. … There’s a possibility that I could reach the point sometime. I’m not near that point. I’ll let you know when I am.”
Whether Nathan was closing would not have had an impact on Saturday night’s loss. Whether Nathan’s struggles has an impact on the Tigers’ bullpen search remains to be seen.