Breaking Down Every Closing Pitcher in 2023 – AL Central

Today, we will be breaking down every projected closing pitcher in the AL Central. The AL Central consists of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and lastly the Minnesota Twins

(*Notice* Closing pitchers listed in this article are the projected closers, not official)

Breaking Down AL Central Closing Pitchers

Chicago White Sox – Kendall Graveman

White Sox star closer Liam Hendriks is currently out being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The White Sox are in a jam of who to put at the closer role for the 2023 season. But, there is no need to panic for White Sox fans. RHP Kendall Graveman seems to be the guy for the 2023 season.

Graveman had a respectable 2022 campaign posting solid numbers consisting of a 3.18 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and even getting six saves of his own. Even with Graveman being named the ninth-inning guy, the White Sox still have other great relievers to turn to such as Joe Kelly, Aaron Bummer, and Reynaldo Lopez. But, the 32-year-old reliever is looking to turn some heads during the 2023 season.

Cleveland Guardians – Emmanuel Clase

In the 2023 season, the Guardians will have one of the best closers in MLB. Emmanuel Clase had an incredible 2022 season posting numbers such as 1.36 ERA, 42 SV, and even holding the opponent’s batting average to .167.

Clase was named reliever of the month three times and even was named an American League All-Star in the 2022 season. In Clase’s spring training debut, he looked nothing but even better than his 2022 season form, throwing his nasty slider which clocked out at 91 mph. The 24-year-old has already proven to be one of the best closers in baseball and Clase is looking to have another successful season as the Cleveland Guardians 2023 closing pitcher. 

Detroit Tigers – Alex Lange 

The Detroit Tigers traded their 2022 season closer Gregory Soto to the Philadelphia Phillies which now opens up the closer role for the Tigers. As of now, manager A.J. Hinch did not make an official decision on his ninth-inning guy.

Relievers such as Jose Cisnero, Alex Lange, Jason Foley, and Will Vest all seem like they’re in the mix but, for now, RHP Alex Lange seems most likely. Lange was a very big part of the Tigers bullpen in the 2022 season putting up 21 holds and pitching 63.1 innings in 2022. Lange ranked among the top five percent of Major League pitchers in chase rate and had a 57.8% whiff rate on breaking balls making him one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball.

If Alex Lange is named the Detroit Tigers 2023 closer, he may be a dark horse candidate to one of the best closers in the 2023 MLB season. 

Kansas City Royals – Scott Barlow

The Kansas City Royals signed veteran reliever/closer Aroldis Chapman this off-season. But, even with that signing it still seems that Scott Barlow will remain as the Royals closer after an impressive 2022 season.

Scott Barlow has been serving as the closer for the Royals for about a year and a half. Barlow has posted amazing numbers in the closer role combining for 43 saves and a combined 2.3 ERA the past two seasons. Barlow is also looking good in spring training currently sitting at 5 IP, 4K’s, 1.80 ERA, and even having one win in his stat sheet.

Barlow has proven to be the Royals best option and we’re all expecting him to have another great season in 2023. 

Minnesota Twins – Jorge Lopez 

The Minnesota Twins seem to be using the same strategy as last season with their closer role. Relievers Jorge Lopez and Jhoan Duran will be splitting time as the ninth-inning guy.

Jorge Lopez was brought into the Twins during the trade deadline to become their new closing pitcher. In the short time span, Lopez didn’t really seem to prove anything and was nothing better than average. With that being said, manager Rocco Baldelli decided to share the closing role between Jhoan Duran and Jorge Lopez.

Jhoan Duran showed to be one of the best relievers in MLB with his fastball touching 102-103 mph. If Jorge Lopez can get back to his peak performance in the 2023 season, the Twins will be a scary team with the two sharing time as the closer. 

Main Image: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY

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