Expedition Saves: Does Change Loom For The Detroit Tigers? Maybe, But Maybe Not…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Detroit’s relievers have been bad this season, with an overall 4.84 ERA, and closer Shane Greene has been among the biggest problems (5.73 ERA with 2 blown saves).  He’s now allowed runs in three of his past six outings, and while he may not be ready to be removed yet he appears to have one foot out the door.  The question is who is the best option to step in and fill the potential vacancy?  There’s one obvious answer, but he may not actually be a good fit and he also may not stand alone.  Let’s take a look:

 

Joe Jimenez – Right-Handed Pitcher
2018 Statistics – 14.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.07 K/9, 3.21 BB/9

He’s been considered the “closer of the future” and has shown more strikeout stuff (11.7% SwStr%), but he’s also not throwing quite as hard as he did a year ago (95.3 mph to 94.3) and definitely has some home run concerns:

  • Line Drive Rate – 13.6%
  • Groundball Rate – 25.0%
  • Fly Ball Rate – 61.4%

That was an issue last season (1.89 HR/9) and could quickly start to sabotage him in ’18 as well.  Couple all that with his 4.15 BB/9 in the minors last season (4.26 in the Majors), as well as a pedestrian 29.7% O-Swing% this year and the risks involved are obvious.

Jimenez has allowed runs in two of his past four appearances and may not be quite as obvious of a solution as you would think.

 

Daniel Stumpf – Left-Handed Pitcher
2018 Statistics – 11.1 IP, 1.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.35 K/9, 3.97 BB/9

The fact that he’s left-handed could work against him and when we start diving into the metrics the risk involved is obvious:

  • Line Drive Rate – 27.3%
  • BABIP – .235
  • Strand Rate – 84.6%

That all reeks of a regression, and while he has posted a 12.2% SwStr% thus far the overall skills appear lackluster (including a 36.4% groundball rate).  While the overall line is impressive, there’s far too much downside to think that he could potentially thrive in the role.

 

Conclusion
Alex Wilson could also be a candidate to close, but at this point Greene could be the best option regardless of his struggles.  The Tigers clearly aren’t going anywhere, so why not see if he can solve his issues and develop into a real option?  Jimenez may have the long-term appeal, but he needs further development and simply thrusting him into the closers role could ultimately be counterproductive.  For now fantasy owners just need to stay the course with Greene, and if you are searching for potential alternatives you may want to focus on a different situation.

Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN

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