Detroit Tigers: Gregory Soto aiming for closer role in 2021

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding, and the on-field product is pretty scary to watch. As they continue on and starting turning corners, they are going to turn to some of their current players. Gregory Soto is one of the players they could turn to in a “long-” term role

While there is no 100% guarantee that A.J. Hinch will name a closer ahead of the 2021 season, leaving it to a closing committee situation, however, Soto is a very realistic name to throw around when talking about possible closer candidates.

As Spring Training rolls around ahead of the 2021 season, Soto is going to have his sights on a ninth-inning job and earning that position. A new manager means there will be new favorites, new trusted players, and Soto is looking to climb into that “trusted bullpen arms” group right off the bat.

After a championship win in the Dominican Winter Leagues, Soto is looking to bring that confidence into the upcoming season. It is no secret that pitching can be an EXTREMELY tasking mental battle for some guys, and having that confidence should immensely help Soto.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Gregory Soto is going to come back to Spring Training ready to fight for a shot at the closer position.

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In 2020, Soto pitched in 27 games, totaling 23 innings pitched for the Tigers. At times he looked like a flamethrowing left-handed pitcher who was untouchable. On other occasions, it looked like he was throwing beach balls to the hitters.

He would finish up the 2020 season with a 4.30 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts for the Tigers. The hard-throwing left-hander was one of the arms in the bullpen that was consistently trotted out there.

When he was “on,” he was a good set-up man or eighth inning arm for the Tigers to use. However, there is a chance Soto makes some closing appearances in the 2021 season; he is going to make a run at the closing gig regardless.

The biggest change from 2020 to 2021 is likely to be Soto’s confidence. The aforementioned championship win is going to have him coming in feeling good. Not to mention, he was playing pretty confident during his time in the Dominican Winter League.

If Soto can show up to camp, throwing gas with some boosted confidence, there is a good chance he is in that closer conversation if Hinch chooses to go that route. There is the off chance that Hinch decides to roll with a closer by committee situation, which is a possibility.

Currently, Fangraphs has the closing situation being anchored by Bryan Garcia after he tapped into some magic at the end of the year and was quite successful. But heading into 2021, the closing situation should be monitored with players like Buck Farmer, Garcia, and Soto vying for the role.

You could throw Joe Jiménez’s name in the ring, too, but after the severe regression in 2020, that just seems unlikely to kick off the year. It seems like Soto has a chance to emerge as the closer if the team goes that route.

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As 2021 Spring Training rolls around, keep an eye on Detroit Tigers’ left-handed pitcher, Gregory Soto, as he looks to emerge as the team’s closer.