Detroit Tigers position battles: who will close out wins for the Tigers?

The Detroit Tigers head into the 2023 season without a defined closer, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The two options they assumed they would have, Gregory Soto and Joe Jimenez, were both traded for offensive players this offseason.

Why it matters:

The Tigers will enter 2023 without a solidified closer. This hasn’t seemed to phase manager A.J. Hinch, who will most likely start the season with a “closer-by-committee” approach until someone sets themselves apart.

  • Soto notched 30 saves in 2022 and was Detroit’s best trade chip.
  • For as good as he was, his walk rate was climbing and his strikeouts per nine innings was the lowest of his career.
  • Jimenez was next in line to close, after a solid 2022. We even suggested signing him to an extension.
  • Both of these pitchers were flipped for four position players and a pitcher.

The 2023 Detroit Tigers’ closer candidates

Alex Lange – 27 years old, free agent in 2028

2022 Stats (MLB): 63.1 IP, 30.3 K%, 3.41 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.25 FIP

Alex Lange, Detroit Tigers
via Baseball Savant

Alex Lange sometimes appears to be alien when he lets go of the baseball. The way that he’s been able to move the ball, particualy arm-side, is a thing of beauty. His change-up is his most effective pitch, which he pairs with a hard fastball. He’s effective in limiting hard contact and barrels, and is highly effective in getting whiffs. Though not as tested as a guy lke Cisnero, if given the chance to close, Lange’s effectiveness will take center stage.

Jason Foley – 27 years old, free agent in 2028

2022 Stats (MLB): 60.1 IP, 16.8 K%, 3.88 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2.76 FIP

Jason Foley, Detroit Tigers
Via Baseball Savant

Predominantly a sinker ball pitcher, Foley throws a very heavy ball that limits damage. He doesn’t walk hitters, and misses barrels enough to be the closer for the Tigers. Three of his four pitches have elite horizontal movement, measured by Baseball Savant. And while he doesn’t strike out people at the same clip that Lange or Cisnero will, but Foley did perform well in the situations that he was put in last season, and should be a name in the hate for the 2023 job.

Jose Ciserno – 33 years old, free agent in 2024

2022 Stats (MLB): 25.0 IP, 21.9 K%, 1.08 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.67 FIP

Jose Cisnero, Detroit Tigers
via Baseball Savant

Cisnero only logged 25 innings in 2022, but was effective in those innings. Featuring a power fastball and three other pithces that help in his effetiveness. He is a big bodied pitcher, that gets a lot of spin on his fastball. His put out pich is his slider that he uses about 26% of the time in put outs. In 2021, a year he logged 61.2 innings, he was very effective in missing barrels and not allowing hard hit baseballs. He could be penciled in as the “closer” as the organization continues to figure out the back-end of their bullpen.

The Bottom Line:

The appearance of Lange and Foley last season made the best two trade chips the Tigers had expendable. They were able to improve the team, and create organizational positional depth, because they had reliable arms in the bullpen. And, while its true that Soto and Jimenez were two of the lynchpins of the Tigers good bullpen last season, either one of these guys on this list will be able to carry the torch forward for the Tigers in 2023 at the back end of the bullpen.

Written by AJ Reilly

A.J. is a lifelong baseball fan and an avid storyteller. His debut novel, The Askren Boys, won the Literary Classics Gold Medal and Seal of Approval in November of 2018. When not writing, he is spending time with his wife Jessica, son Jack, daughter Nora, and new arrival Teddy. A.J. lives in Metro Detroit.

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