The Detroit Tigers may not want Gregory Soto to be the team’s closer long-term.
The Detroit Tigers have trusted their closer duties to flame-throwing southpaw Gregory Soto. He’s been the team’s go-to ninth-inning option, but has not always been the smoothest closer.
Soto has led to some jaw-clenching finishes to games. While he has only blown two saves for the Detroit Tigers bullpen in 2022, there could be some reason to panic moving forward. He has the tendency to make the game interesting, something that fans might rather see their closer avoid.
With the Tigers bullpen finally looking like a well-oiled machine, it’s time to think about what the make-up of the bullpen is moving forward. The Tigers have trusted Soto as the closer, but the long-term plans may not be including him.
There are reasons to keep trotting him out there and reasons to see if other options exist for the team’s closer role. Let’s dive into some of the reasons there should be concern about the Tigers continuing to trot Soto out there.
If the Tigers decide that Soto is their guy, they are settling on a left-handed closer who works the upper-90s with a slider as his primary secondary. He’s proven he can overpower hitters, miss bats, and get the job done. (Again, focusing on the positives)
In 2022, Soto has appeared in 50 games, totaling 48 innings pitched. He has managed a 3.56 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP while punching out 48 opposing hitters. The Tigers have seen Soto finish out 43 games, converting on 24 saves.
He’s been someone the team can rely on, but he also has his drawbacks. While he’s only blown two saves, the team has seen him create some scary situations. He has a high WHIP, which is likely due to the high amount of walks to this point in the year (25 BB and 7 HBP).
He keeps it interesting and can lead to nerve-wracking endings. As the Tigers enter an era of competition once again and start being a contender, they are going to want the lockdown closer. I have some reservations about Soto being that guy.
He does not have that high-leverage feel or postseason experience to be able to come in and get the job done when the season is on the line. Even in the regular season, the Tigers are so far from the postseason that his saves are not season-dictating whatsoever.
In a high-leverage situation, walking the bases loaded or giving up hits and making things tougher on the Tigers is not what they are going to want. Smooth and quick outings will be the name of the game.
The Tigers may want to go down another avenue. The outside hire or free agent signing feels like best option. They could give a couple of players the opportunity to poke through the minors and be a high-leverage arm, but they will also lack experience.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Tigers opt to do regarding the closer role moving forward.