Twins closer Joe Nathan has a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and Tommy John surgery is usually required to repair the injury. Nathan hasn't opted for surgery just yet. Nathan will wait until the swelling goes down and rest for two weeks before trying to throw a baseball. Then he will decided if he can pitch with the injury or if he needs surgery. It sounds like Nathan will likely miss the season since there is no history of anyone pitching with this injury successfully.

There's no clear cut candidate to take over as closer. Jon Rauch would be the favorite because of his closing experience. Rauch had a 6.3 K/9, which was his lowest since 2004 and not ideal for a closer and he's a fly ball pitcher. He has 26 career saves; 18 came in 2008.

Matt Guerrier is another candidate. He had a 2.26 ERA and 0.94 WHIP last season, but had a very low Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) of .222 and a high strand rate (86 percent), so regression is likely, especially since his 5.6 K/9 is average and his fly ball rate went up.

Jesse Crain hasn't been the same since shoulder surgery in 2007. He had a 4.7 BB/9, which has declined in four consecutive seasons and he doesn't induce as many groundballs as he used to.

Pat Neshek had Tommy John suregry late in 2008 and missed all of last season. One thing to keep an eye on players bouncing back from this type of surgery is their control. He could be the Twins' best option to close if healthy because he gets a lot of strikeouts, but he is much better against righthanders than lefthanders and he allows a lot of fly balls.

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Jose Mijares is the lone left in the bullpen, so he could see some situational saves, but he doesn't fare well against righthanders.

Don't be surprised if Francisco Liriano takes the job. He is vying for a spot in the starting rotation. Liriano pitched great in the Dominican Winter League and likely will win the fifth spot in the rotation, but if Nathan is out for the season, those plans might be altered.

Of course, the Twins could make a trade for a closer or a prospect gets a chance to work his way up or it could be the fantasy owners nightmare: closer by committee. Right now, Rauch looks like the favorite.

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