The Detroit Tigers may need a new closer
For the first two months of the season, Alex Lange was one of the best closers in baseball. He was even named the American League Reliever of the Month for the month of May after putting up a 0.84 ERA and striking out 17 in 10.2 IP. Batters hit just .091 against him in May.
But ever since then, it's been a much different story. Lange has struggled mightily over the past month and a half. He had an ERA of 11.57 in June, and while July has been a little better so far, it still hasn't been great. He's allowed a home run in each of his last two outings.
The biggest culprit for Lange has been his command. He's walking almost 6 batters per nine innings this season. In that awful month of June, he walked as many batters as struck out (10 each).
He heavily relies on batters to chase his curveball out of the strike zone, but when you can't throw your fastball for strikes, it's a lot easier for hitters to simply lay off. It looked like he made a small adjustment in the comibined no-hitter against the Blue Jays, where he started throwing his curveball for strikes, but that's really the only time we've seen that.
When Alex Lange is on, he's nasty. He can be one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. But when he's not, it can get ugly. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Anyway, when you have a set-up man that's been even more dominant all season, just in a different way, it should be an easy change to make. Jason Foley has been lights out all year. He's a groundball machine. His power sinker is just lethal.
On top of that, he throws strikes. He's even been getting more strikeouts as of late. When you have a pitch that's virtually guaranteed to generate a groundball, and you have the ability to punch people out, that seems like the perfect reliever to be your closer.
Lange has been great in the past, but he's just too inconsistent right now to be the closer. That isn't to say he can't win the job back if he improves, but until his command and strike-throwing become more consistent, Jason Foley should be the Detroit Tigers' closer.