Tigers injury update: Alex Lange suffers unfortunate setback in Triple-A

Detroit's former closer is having a season to forget in 2024.
Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

In the first month of the season, Alex Lange appeared to have things figured out. Last year, he finished with a 3.68 ERA after struggling through the majority of the season as the Detroit Tigers' de facto closer. Detroit's bullpen was hurting for arms coming into spring training, so there was really no question if Lange would make the Opening Day roster despite his previous struggles.

He got off to a great start, too. By the end of April, he carried a 0.84 ERA over 10 2/3 innings pitched, some as a closer but others as a middle reliever depending on what the situation called for. His ERA fell to 0.64 by May 8, four appearances (all as a closer) into the month, with 14 innings pitched.

The next time he came out of the bullpen, though, things got hairy. Lange came in during the seventh after Joey Wentz had allowed two runs to the Astros and got the Tigers out of it with a Jeremy Peña flyout. In the eighth, he didn't get as lucky. Yordan Alvarez led off the inning with a double then reached third on a wild pitch. Lange then walked Jon Singleton, which led to a cascade of events wherein Houston scored four runs.

His last appearance in the majors before getting sent down to Triple-A went equally poorly, and his ERA had ballooned to 4.34.

Down in the minors, he was looking a little better during 8 2/3 innings (3.12 ERA), but unfortunately he might've suffered a major setback. During a June 14 appearance, Lange was pulled early with an as-yet undiagnosed upper body issue.

Tigers' Alex Lange suffers injury after May demotion to Triple-A

After Lange was pulled, the Mud Hens said that he would have to undergo tests to fully diagnose the issue, but we have yet to receive official word on what the problem is. However, it's been describe as "severe," which could point to something potentially season-ending. He was also seen grabbing his latissimus dorsi muscle (or, in simpler terms, his back).

Lange's decline in the majors coincided with the bullpen's decline as a whole. In the first month of the season, their collective ERA was one of the best in the majors; it now ranks 18th, with a 4.10 ERA. Over the last 30 days, the Tigers' relievers rank in the bottom third in all of baseball in fWAR and sport a dreadful 5.65 ERA.

Lange has never suffered a serious injury in his career so far, but this is a huge blow as he was trying to make was his way back into the majors.