MLB: Joe Nathan, Jonathan Broxton And Other Returning Closers May Play Big Role In Second Half

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A number of closers are flourishing with new clubs in 2012, with some coming back from injuries that cost them a significant portion of their previous season. Tampa Bay's Fernando Rodney has had a history of shaky closing, and saw himself removed as the Angels' stopper during the first couple weeks of 2011. Signing on with the Rays in December, Rodney has made the All-Star Game with 24 saves and an ERA of 0.96 during the first half, helping keep Joe Maddon's club in the race for the American League East.

Joe Nathan spent the last six seasons in Minnesota, leaving the Twins last offseason to sign on with the Texas Rangers. A native of Houston, Nathan slid into closing duties, allowing the organization to move Netheli Feliz into the starting rotation.  Nathan missed the entire 2010 because of a torn ulnar collatera ligament , and had limited success early on when he came back the next season. After losing the closer's role, the club's all-time saves leader righted the ship, and finished the season converting his last 11 save opportunities. He's had an impressive year for Texas, saving 18 of 19 with an ERA of 1.87.

Jonathan Broxton had 72 saves over a three-year period for the Dodgers, but a bruised elbow put him on the shelf for the majority of the 2011 season. Getting a second chance with the Royals, Broxton has played a part in keeping Kansas City in the division race with 20 saves in 23 chances. Despite allowing more baserunners than manager Ned Yost would like, Broxton is still maintaing a 2.05 ERA. The righthander admits that he tried to come back early from an injury last year, but is making up for it now in his environment.

Other pitchers filling in nicely after injuries to their club include Santiago Casilla of the Giants, Alfredo Aceves of the Red Sox, and Rafael Soriano of the New York Yankees. Casey Janssen has done the same for the Blue Jays, while Addison Reed has stabilized the White Sox closing situation, as has Kenley Jansen for the Dodgers. Ryan Cook has stepped in for Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes in Oakland, and Tyler Clippard has established himself as the main guy in Washington, after they had operated under a bullpen-by-committte all season.