Nathan: I understand their frustration

Hours after Joe Nathan’s three-run ninth inning Saturday night, he had a clean ninth inning with a four-run lead Sunday afternoon. His postgame interview with reporters seemingly lasted longer than his inning Sunday.

He didn’t want to talk about Saturday’s loss, though he referenced what went wrong to get it out of the way. 

He understands fan frustration, he says, though he struggles to understand the emotional, game-to-game roller-coaster that goes with it. He’s trying to do his part to even it out, hoping fans will do the same on their end.

“I think the tough part for that is: When things go bad, they’re all over you. When things go well, they cheer,” he said. “Do we always want the fans supporting us? Yes, and I think they do here. And I think they’re so into it and want to win so bad. But as bad as they want to win, we want to win 100 percent more than they do. I understand their frustration.

“All I can do is say I’m busting my butt to get better every day and I’m grinding away every day and I’m in the gym every day. When things don’t go as well, I go out and beat my legs up running around the field so I’m stronger for the next day.”

He is not quite as preoccupied by mechanics at this point. He continues to work off of the lower arm angle he put into practice last month, but it’s not a cure-all. It’s a route to get where he wants with his pitches.

“I know my stuff’s better,” he said. “For me now, it’s a matter of getting more and more comfortable. Working ahead is always key. When I’m out there and I’m throwing strike one, it seems to be results-wise and putting hitters into defensive modes is much better when I’m getting strikes. But that’s the same with every pitcher. For me, I think the mechanical thing was more getting myself confidence. I’ve really noticed a difference with the slider especially. Earlier in the year, I was fighting to get it down in the zone and velocity-wise, it was more 84-85. Now it’s been easier to get it down in the zone and I’m noticing 87-88-89 at times. …

“It’s hard to work on stuff in the game regardless. It’s extremely hard when you have a week of downtime. As much as you need the four days, the thing you’re worried about the most is getting too much time off. I’m not doing anything major. It’s been easier for me, and I think that’s why, even if I do go out there and have a bad game like yesterday, you can’t always pay attention to results. You’ve just got to pay attention to how your stuff’s coming out and the swings you’re getting from hitters. I know I’m getting a lot more swings and misses in the last 10 or 15 outings since I made that adjustment.”

He’s definitely getting more of those than he was early in the year. Even during Saturday’s debacle, two of his three outs came on strikeouts. He had one strikeout and two swings and misses out of nine pitches Sunday, both to Saturday night Indians hero Chris Dickerson.

One was off the slider, the other off a 91 mph fastball.

“I feel like my stuff is there a lot of times,” he said. “Is it a work in progress? I hope not. I hope it clicks and like today, everything goes smooth from here on out. But it’s baseball. That won’t happen. I am still that same guy and hopefully it works out that we get to the playoffs and I’m pitching my best then.”

Every indication so far has been that the Tigers will give him the chance to close if they get there. They have not been looking for a pure closer. 

“I’m way too old to worry about that stuff,” Nathan said. “I’ve done too much in this game, too much in my career. I think it’d be unfair to myself to beat myself up over that kind of stuff after all the things I’ve been through in my career. That’s part of the game, and I know stuff’s going to be talked about, but that’s not for me to worry about.”

11 Comments

I think Nathan has an advantage, as did Todd Jones, in not caring what the fans think. Nor should he. Once you let the fans get to you, you’re done in that town. We’ve seen it here and recently.
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From above: “He understands fan frustration, he says, though he struggles to understand the emotional, game-to-game roller-coaster that goes with it. He’s trying to do his part to even it out, hoping fans will do the same on their end.”
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I don’t understand the emotional roller coaster either. We should look at the season in larger portions. One, two, three, even four games don’t signify a trend.

Maybe he should sound as though he gives a sh**. Talk is cheap, just shut up and pitch.

I’m not going back to Baseball Reference to check his stats, but hasn’t Joe pretty much had success throughout his whole career? A lights-out closer who has never experienced this much failure? He’s a proud man. Hope he can turn things around for himself as well as the fans.

Joe needs to throw strikes and he needs to throw them harder if he is going to rediscover his historical dominance.
WHEN?
Do the Tigers promote Moya and Travis?
Do they recall Justin Miller who is obviously their best relief option in the minors? He has been lights out.
Do they make a decision regarding Ezeqiel Carrera? He is an obvious September call up but the guy hits/runs/fields probably better than any current OFer on the big club.
Does DD realize that Krol is not going to save face for him with respect to the Fister trade?
Are there any SeaWolve fans out there? If so what is the consensus on Ramon Cabrera’s defense this year?

As someone pointed out last week here:
“Mentioned #Tigers’ overly RH lineup in column. But as @63_DTiger points out, team’s .766 OPS vs. RHP ranks 2nd in AL. Bullpen bigger need.” Rosethal

Still, with Jackson batting like expected from a RH

I hope they don’t deal away Travis or Moya. I am unsure of how McCann and RCab prospect out. From all reports McCann is force behind the plate but he is going to need to hit better than .250/.260 to justify another RHB in the lineup.
If only Avila would start hitting!

I saw Cabrera here and ,well, there is a reason why he played a lot as DH. He still need some polishing

I’ve heard a lot and read a lot about Austin Jackson being a better hitter in the leadoff spot, so I thought I’d throw in my two cents.
I think the guy is either hot or cold with no middle ground and it has nothing to do with where he is in the batting order. There’s an advantage to having him comfortable but I’ve never seen it translate into consistent production. His next 0-for-forever will be coming up. Not saying he shouldn’t lead off; just sharing an opinion. And yes, I like Austin Jackson just fine.

Best hitting team in MLB:
Your Tigers:

http://t.co/WKJdgdb2rK

Austin Jackson CF, Ian Kinsler 2B, Miguel Cabrera 3B, Victor Martinez 1B, Torii Hunter RF, Eugenio Suarez SS, Bryan Holaday C, Rajai Davis LF, (Justin Verlander P)

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