Joe Nathan is now tied with Rick Aguilera for the franchise lead in saves. It didn't come easy, but
Twitchy managed to wriggle out of a runners-on-the-corners-with-one-out jam to put himself in position to become the Twins' next King of Savers. Actually, Twitchy has Joe Mauer to thank for this milestone. If it weren't for his RBI double in the ninth inning, he would have had to wait another day for his chance at making Twins history:
Earlier this season, Twitchy seemed a long shot to be making history of any sort. His velocity had dropped to 91.5 mph, and he struggled to throw any of his pitches for strikes. He was walking almost as many batters as he struck out, and had an ERA of 7.63 in 17 appearances. When he went on the disabled list with pain in his elbow, it appeared that he would never fully recover from Tommy John surgery and his career was all but over. However, it turned out that scar tissue was the culprit, and once it broke up, Nathan began to at least pitch effectively. Since his return on June 23, his velocity is back up in the 92-93 mph range, and he's been hitting the strikezone consistently. He hasn't walked anyone, and has allowed just seven hits and a couple of runs in the last 12.1 innings. His ERA has dropped to 4.88, and his strikeout rate has improved to 8.1, though it's still well below his career mark of 9.38. He isn't quite his old self, but Twitchy has emerged as the best right-handed pitcher in the bullpen.
Of course, Nathan's resurgence also puts the front office in a tough bind. Though they sit just seven games out of first place, the Twins lost six of their past ten games, and they still have one of the worst run differentials in the league (-88). It's looking less and less likely that the Twins will be in the playoff hunt this season, which means they will probably be dumping salary and adding prospects at the trade deadline. Nathan appears a likely candidate to be dealt, since decent relievers are always in demand at the deadline, and he is owed at least $13.25 million (provided his $12.5 million option isn't exercised) through next year. The slew of injuries this season has exposed a lack of depth in the upper levels of the farm system, so the Twins could really use some major-league ready prospects, particularly in the bullpen and the infield.
However, they don't have a real need for a fire sale this year, either. They are still a relatively young team, and it isn't likely that the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span will all be hurt again at the same time next season. The starting rotation should get a boost from