As expected, the Detroit Tigers traded closer Shane Greene prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline, shipping him to the Atlanta Braves for a pair of interesting prospects. Greene has already been named the new closer in Atlanta — there’s a reason they acquired him, after all — but Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire has yet to name who will get the ball in the ninth inning.
Naturally, this is a Very Important Topic that we must discuss.
We got a preview of the Tigers’ potential bullpen hierarchy on Wednesday afternoon, when they closed out a series win in Anaheim (!) with a 9-1 blowout over the Los Angeles Angels. Trevor Rosenthal worked the seventh inning before giving way to Buck Farmer in the eighth. Joe Jimenez recorded the final three outs, but, like we have seen so often from him this year, it took a fair amount of hard contact to get there.
Our Question of the Day is a simple one, but one sure to generate plenty of discussion.
Who should be the Tigers’ closer now that Shane Greene has been traded?
My answer: I’d like to see Buck Farmer get the ball in the ninth for now. While this flies in the face of our usual priorities — Farmer has been the best reliever of the three potential closers this year, and should theoretically get more high-leverage appearances — there are a few reasons why he makes sense as the new closer.
For one, Farmer has struggled with stranding runners in 2019; of the 33 runners he has inherited this year, 15 have come around to score. That 45 percent clip is well above the league average of 32 percent. Opponents are hitting .235/.286/.400 against him this year with the bases empty, but .284/.375/.444 with runners on.
By giving Farmer more clean innings, it could help boost his trade value in future years. Teams were already sniffing around on the 28-year-old righthander this July, as his strikeout rate and raw numbers have shot through the roof in 2019. He has a surprising amount of team control remaining before free agency — he isn’t even arbitration eligible yet, somehow — and could become the team’s next big trade chip if he takes another step forward.
Buck Farmer, lockdown closer? It could actually happen.