Game 99: When Joe Nathan finds his slider

Joe Nathan has been around the American League long enough to remember when the Rally Monkey first became a thing.

“Yeah, I don’t stare at the thing,” Nathan said. “It’s a known fact that if you catch eyeballs with the monkey, something bad’s going to happen. So you have to keep your head down. I’ve seen it way too many times where I watch the video and I laugh and all of a sudden, ‘Aw, man.'”

If he keeps throwing sliders like the ones he threw Thursday, he won’t have to think about superstitions. His ninth inning Thursday night barely lasted long enough for the Angels to get a video clip of the Rally Monkey on the scoreboard.

He struck out the side in order for just the second time this season, and he needed just 12 pitches — nine of them strikes — to do it. The same reliever who drew just six swings and misses over seven innings from May 12-28 drew six whiffs in his latest inning alone. Four of those came on a slider that has become a project of his in recent weeks.

“That was as long as I’ve seen his slider, I think all year possibility,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It was clear that the hitters weren’t picking up the rotation on his slider. It looked like a fastball to them and they swung right over the top. …

“That’s the slider I remember facing. It looks like a fastball coming in at the bottom of the strike zone, and you start your swing and it just drops out of the strike zone. It almost has a split-finger action to it.”

That’s the idea.

“I threw the slider in some pretty good spots to make it tough for them to lay off,” Nathan said, “but also with two strikes being able to put it in a place.”

It also was a difference in mechanics.

“I’ve been tweaking mechanics and working on different things,” he said. “Each time out there, I’ve had a chance to work on it and get more and more comfortable with it. Now I’m getting to the point where you can get away from mechanics and stop thinking about that.”

This would be a good time for that. Thursday’s gem came hours after Joakim Soria joined the team following his trade from Texas. He was a closer with the Rangers, but set up for Nathan over the second half last season.

Nathan entered Thursday having drawn swings and misses on 35.6 percent of his sliders this year (37 whiffs out of 104 swings), up slightly from his 2013 rate in Texas (63 out of 186, 33.9%) according to STATS.

23 Comments

Just amazing that he has a higher swing and miss rate on the slider this year. Does his fastball get bombed???

Glad it was working last night, I went to bed when we were up 4-3 and was hoping for a good outcome – nice win last night. A split at that stadium would be tremendous, hoping we can do that.

Oh my gosh, forgot to add that I saw the replay of Ryan Raburn on sportscenter this morning – bet if he could have dug a hole and gone into hiding he would have at that moment. Yikes.

I understand that loyalty, respect to the veteran and 15 MM make a summary demotion impossible but having Soria pitching the seven would be Huff, Baker, Betemit all over again and Nathan seems to be waiting that:

“Nathan: You look for depth in the bullpen, adding Soria it will just shorten the game for us & give us options from 6th inning on #Tigers”

What if Soria pitches the seventh and then Nathan blows the save in the 9th?

Hey Dan, expensive, but you can get tickets on StubHub.

That Raburn “Throw” is the funniest thing I’ve seen all month. I’m dying here. Wow.

The irony,Raburn had only one redeeming quality: his powerful arm.
The head HR, the open door, the Throw … but who is counting

I wold expect we will see Soria in the 8th or 9th a fair amount.too. If Joba gets “off” and when Joe starts to “blow” it will be an easy fix to apply the ‘Mexecutioner”.
Regardless, this was a very necessary acquisition.
I hope Tony Sipp is next.

Ryan Raburn! He is one of a kind. This could only happen to him.
I’ve always thought that when he is going hard for a ball there is an equal chance of him catching the ball with his gaping mouth than with his iron glove.
I was just gonna say I miss him but that would really be telling a white on white lie.
Keep Tryin’ Ryan.

I thought of naming my next band “Raburn’s Throw” although “RayBum” has a nice ring to it also.

Thanks DB. I noticed a special ticket package vs the Twins. They offer Upper Box, Pavillion or Mezzanine. Do you know anything about the quality of seating in those spots?
I checked StubHub and would likely try for something close to the field on the other days we’ll be there.

You’re doing Twins final four games of the season?
For the upper deck, I’ve found that the so called Club seats are good. They are the closest to the field (first few rows) and ring the infield. Prices looks to run along the $40 range.
Don’t forget SRO if, like me, you like to walk around while stopping at various vantage points. For that 2011 postseason Verlander vs Yankees game, my reserved seats were so high up down the line that we opted to go stand by the statues in CF. It was closer.

Interesting.SRO all over the park?
Been a long time since I’ve been in Detroit. Hope to be able to pull it off.
thanks

I was thinking of late Septmember-a couple of games vs the ChiSox and a game or two vs the Twins

For those who have twitter, I recommend Mark Simon ESPN. A treasure of interesting numbers

Iott:
“How Ryan Raburn throw came to be. In short: Shift on, went to throw to 3rd, no 3B, tried to hold up, couldn’t.”

Lineup : Jackson, Kinsler, Cabrera, V-Mart, J.D., Hunter, Castellanos, Avila, Suarez. Smyly .

Davis benched against a LH. Odd

There seems to be more discussion about the “shifts” not only from Verducci, but now Rob Neyer. Here’s a little article that Joe Posnanski wrote and opined re defensive shifts

http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/the-boudreau-shift/

This is the Updike´s essay quoted:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1960/10/22/hub-fans-bid-kid-adieu

The distance to the RF wall was shortened for Ted Williams

From the archives. I loved it ET. They don’t write them like that anymore.

One of my favorites baseball writtings

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