ESPN Stats & Information's Katie Sharp and Michael Bonzagni took a look at newest Ranger Joe Nathan's numbers after his disabled list stint in May. Nathan pitched better from June through the rest of the season as he returned from elbow surgery. The slider was the key. Here's a look:
In his first 17 appearances back from Tommy John Surgery, Nathan's slider was flat, averaging 1.5 inches of vertical break. Hitters weren't fooled, going 4-for-20 while missing on only one of every four swings.
After a month on the disabled list, Nathan returned with a slider that was nearly unhittable.
Batters managed just two hits in 35 at-bats (.057) and whiffed on almost half of their swings in his final 31 appearances.
The vertical break on his slider nearly doubled to 2.8 inches during this stretch, and of the 18 sliders put in play, not a single one was classified as "well hit" by video scouts at Inside Edge.
Nathan has a good history against the Rangers current AL West opponents, converting 43 of 48 save chances for his career against the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, and Oakland Athletics.
In 83 innings against those three teams, he’s allowed just 10 earned runs, and his WHIP against each is 0.85 or lower.