Twins reliever Joe Nathan was honored with the DHL Presents Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award for July.
The award is given to the best relief pitcher of each month, and Nathan certainly deserved the honor. He converted all seven of his save opportunities, and finished with a 0.82 ERA while giving up just three hits in 11 appearances.
"It's huge with a lot of games coming down to the ninth inning," starter Nick Blackburn said. "To have a guy you can rely on and pretty much count on every day, it's just a great feeling for the starters. Basically all you have to do is get the ball to him, and he comes in and does the job."
One of Nathan's best performances of the month came on July 12. Facing Detroit, he struck out the side, saving a 6-5 Minnesota win.
For the season, Nathan is 0-0 with 30 saves and a 1.14 ERA. He competed in his third All-Star Game in July.
"It's easy to overlook how good of a job he's doing," Blackburn said. "It's almost expected for it to happen because he's been so successful, and he's been doing it for several years. It think it's probably overlooked a lot. That's just what he does. He just goes out there and shuts it down."
In recognition of this honor, DHL will donate $1,500 to the West Side branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities in Nathan's name. This donation will be made in conjunction with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF), a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. With this donation, the West Side club will have the opportunity to purchase a pitching machine package from ATEC, the official supplier of pitching machines and other training equipment for MLB.
MLB fans should visit www.mlb.com throughout the season to access information, unique statistics, video clips and exclusive editorial content focused on the "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month/Year Award."
At the conclusion of the season, Major League Baseball fans will have the opportunity to determine which relief pitcher had the best overall season and deserves the fourth annual "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award." A list of finalists will be selected based on statistical qualifiers, and fans will be able to vote for the winner online at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. The "DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award" will be presented during the Major League Baseball postseason.
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.