The Detroit Tigers' closer situation is murkier than it seems: Who's the frontrunner?

The Detroit Tigers may be a mess, but their one strength is their bullpen, and they have options for the closer role in 2024.

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

The last three outs of the game are critical, which is why teams save their best reliever for last. This philosophy has changed over the years as teams begin to shift to using their best reliever in the "highest pressure situation" instead of the final inning.

Regardless, almost every team has that one guy who they trust to get three outs when it matters most. Last season, Alex Lange was that guy for the Tigers for the majority of the season. Let's take a look at some options that the Detroit Tigers have for their closing job this season.

It's not as cut and dry as some other teams have it. With a couple of options and a stacked bullpen, Detroit will have to make some decisions.

The Detroit Tigers have options for the closing job in 2024.

Alex Lange

Firstly, we have the aforementioned Alex Lange. The closer of the future and the man to close most games in 2023, including a combined no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. The argument for Lange to be closer is clear; he did it last year, so he knows the role well. Lange filled the role well in 2023 but struggled as the season progressed.

He finished with a 3.68 ERA, saving 26 games while blowing six saves. An 81.2% save percentage is not exactly that of a "lockdown closer." A big part of his issue was his command. Eventually, hitters began to catch onto his off-speed pitches and laid off the pitches in the dirt. Lange posted 6.1 BB/9, which is quite high. In the words of the late Jim Price, "Walks in the late innings will kill you." The walks got to Lange last season.

Jason Foley

Next, we have Jason Foley. Foley was mostly the setup man to Lange in 2023 and thrived in that role. Foley logged 28 holds in 2023 and finished with a solid 2.61 ERA. During Lange's struggles and on rest days, Foley often took the ninth inning for the Tigers, finishing with seven saves of his own.

Foley, if he can continue the success he had last season, could be a viable option for closer if Detroit chooses to go a different direction. The downside to Foley's argument is he has only attempted ten saves in his career and has mostly stuck to earlier inning work.

Andrew Chafin

The Tigers could also look to newcomer Andrew Chafin to man the ninth inning. Last season, Chafin pitched for the Diamondbacks and Brewers, where he posted a cumulative 4.73 ERA and was 8/13 in save opportunities. Chafin also posted 14 holds.

The argument for Chafin essentially boils down to the overall MLB experience. Lange and Foley each only have three seasons of experience, and Chafin has ten on his own. In 2022, Chafin thrived in the Tigers bullpen to the tune of a 2.83 ERA, one of the best seasons in his career. If it comes down to it, Chafin could be a hail-mary attempt at a closer.

The Detroit Tigers have a sneaky option to look at in Tyler Holton.

The Detroit Tigers have plenty of options in the bullpen for the closer role, but I believe there is one clear option. Southpaw Tyler Holton deserves looks as the team's closer in 2024. Holton was simply electrifying in his first Tiger campaign.

He finished with a 2.11 ERA, one save, and 14 holds. He also posted a 0.87 WHIP last season, an elite mark. Holton proved that he can be a powerhouse reliever for the Tigers. It was Holton's first full season in the MLB, appearing in ten games with Arizona in 2022 and 59 with Detroit in 2023.

There is a question of whether Holton will be able to carry over the success of last season, but if he does, there is no question AJ Hinch has to consider him for closing duties.