2012 MLB Closer Profile: Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

Todd Farino@truegurufarinoCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2012

Nathan will be a wild card for the Rangers.
Nathan will be a wild card for the Rangers.David Maxwell/Getty Images

This one can get a bit sensitive and touchy.

I believe that Joe Nathan is hands down one of the greatest closers. 

When healthy, he can be one of the most dominating forces, with a lethal fastball that he locates well and a slider and curveball to compliment it. 

The reason that this analysis can get sensitive is because even I've lost faith in him. 

Nathan came back last year for the Minnesota Twins and looked uncomfortable.  He opened the season as the Twins closer, but quickly lost the job after only three saves.  He spent most of June on the DL and finally got the closer job back in mid-July. 

He notched 11 saves from July 16th through the rest of the season. 

The most important part of last season to look at is from mid-July till the end of the season.  Nathan was playing for a contract and to prove to himself and everyone else that he was back. 

Before he regained the closer role, his ERA stood at 5.56.  His numbers looked alright.  He recorded 21 of 43 strikeouts in the time period and dropped his ERA down to 4.84. Still, Nathan wasn't dominant.  His fastball lost some juice and his curveball isn't breaking the same. 

At 36, Nathan is entering the twilight of his career.  His velocity is slowing down and, therefore, so is his effectiveness.  I think the Rangers are taking a considerable chance with Nathan as their closer. 

Don't  get me wrong on my analysis, Nathan could have a great season for the Rangers.  He will certainly get plenty of save chances. 

The question is, can he still get the job done? Are you willing to risk your fantasy team on a closer like Nathan?  I guess it all depends where you draft him. 

The Closer Report 2012 Projections: 32 Sv – 2 Wins - 3.45 ERA – 1.22 WHIP – 72 Ks 

2012 Fantasy Draft Analysis:

Nathan is being drafted higher than I expected, at a ADP of 184.  That is ahead of Jason Motte and Huston Street. 

In my eyes, that is ridiculous. 

Granted, it's the sixteenth round and there is a whole lot of risk in that round, I just wouldn't chance picking Joe Nathan until round 18 or 19.  There are healthy, better closers to pick over the aging Nathan.