Detroit Tigers may need a bullpen shakeup in 2024.
Coming into the 2023 season, there was not a full declaration of who would be the Detroit Tigers closer. But the fingers were pointing toward Alex Lange. He had been one of the prominent arms in the team's bullpen for the past few years and ended up stepping into the closer role in 2023.
Things did not exactly go as planned for Alex Lange in the closer role for the Detroit Tigers this summer. He was not able to be the same arm he had been in previous years as the team's closer. Lange had established himself in the bullpen after coming up as a starter, being drafted out of LSU as such.
But, after a year in the closer's role, there may be some work to do with assembling the team's bullpen of the future. It's not that Lange will be useless, but he might be best served in a late-inning leverage role rather than the closer role.
Lange came out in 2023 and pitched in 67 games for Detroit, totaling 66.0 innings pitched. He closed 45 games out in 2023 and amassed 26 saves along the way. Lange pitched to a 3.68 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP, and had 45 walks to 79 strikeouts for the Tigers.
It was not his best performance out of the Tigers bullpen. In years past, he had used the fastball/breaking ball combo for success. He's got that pretty breaker and can use it to get outs, but for the Tigers, he struggled to get things going at the same rate he had performed in years past.
Don't get it twisted; I'm not saying he's horrible and should be DFA'd tomorrow. But moving him back to that eighth-inning role or using him as the high-leverage guy and either bringing in a different arm as the closer or promoting from within, might be the best option.
Jason Foley had a bit of a coming-out party this year, really finding ways to be effective for Detroit. I don't think he's the closer either, but maybe it's another arm that Detroit wants to run out there in the ninth inning to see how it goes.
It's one of those spots that will be pretty fluid heading into the off-season. But if the team opts to head into 2024 with Lange as the closer, he has to make some changes, really finding ways to come in and be the shut-down arm the Tigers need.
Competing or not, the Tigers will need him to be better at limiting baserunners and cutting down on the walks. For Detroit, there's still plenty of value in having Lange around, but he's got to improve some things in 2024.