Soto has had a rough start to the season, but Chris Fetter should be able to get him back on track.
Gregory Soto had another rocky outing Thursday night against the Houston Astros, walking one and giving up two hits, one of which was a walk-off single by Kyle Tucker. He did not record an out.
The main concern with Soto has always been his control, and that was on full display last night. He struggled throwing strikes, and when he did get one over the plate, it got crushed.
So far this season, Soto has walked five batters in just eight innings pitched. He walked 5.6 batters per nine last season.
Because of this, many Tigers fans are clamoring for Soto to be removed from the closer’s role. But what other options to the Tigers have? Let’s examine some of them, shall we?
This is the most obvious and popular choice. Fulmer has had a sensational 2022 so far, not having given up a run in 10.1 innings of work. A.J. Hinch has brought him in in several high leverage situations as well, and he’s been up to the task.
So should he be the Tigers’ new closer? Well if you ask me, no, he should not. I’ll take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with him. Fulmer has been great in his current role, so I don’t really want them to mess with that.
Chafin has the experience and the track record in high leverage situations to be a closer. But I don’t think he would work either. He doesn’t really have closer stuff in my opinion.
His fastball sits 90-92, and while he was a wicked slider, I feel he’s best used as a traditional LOOGY (or however close you can get to that with the three-batter minimum). Another case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Lange has the stuff to be a high leverage reliever, but doesn’t have the experience. Hinch has tried bringing him to put out the fire a few times this season with mixed results. Most recently, he came in with one out and runners on the corners in game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and allowed both runners to score on a 2-run triple.
He has also struggled with his control at times, walking four in 8.1 innings of work so far this season, and walked four batters per nine last season. The same things that fans gripe about with Soto, they’d likely gripe about with Lange.
Nah, that’s a cop out. Jimenez has at least been a closer in the past, but as we all know, it didn’t really go well. Much like Soto and Lange, he still struggles with free passes. He also has tendency to get hit around a lot. While he has looked better overall this season, let’s be honest with ourselves…do we really want to go through this again?
There’s no sugarcoating this: Soto needs to be better. He needs to start throwing strikes more consistently. But he’s got the stuff to be an elite closer. When he’s on, he’s at that level. But considering Chris Fetter’s track record, there’s no reason to believe he can’t fix Soto too.