The Tigers placed closer Gregory Soto (left finger fracture) and outfielder Derek Hill (left knee sprain) on the 10-day injured list. Both players are expected to miss the rest of the season, manager A.J. Hinch told The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky and other reporters. Outfielder Daz Cameron and infielder Isaac Paredes were called up from Triple-A Toledo to replace Soto and Hill on the active roster.
Soto suffered his injury after being hit by a Manuel Margot line drive on Friday, while Hill sprained his knee while trying to beat out a bunt single yesterday. Hill had to be wheeled off the field following the awkward-looking play, which also involved a collision with Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi.
Soto’s strong work in the first half of the season saw him reach the AL All-Star roster, as he ended up being Detroit’s top choice to preserve late-game leads. Soto posted a 3.39 ERA over 63 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, racking up 18 saves while recording a solid 27.5% strikeout rate. On the down side, Soto’s 14.5% walk rate was one of the league’s worst, as the control problems that bothered Soto in his first two MLB seasons continued in 2021.
As a result of these walks, Soto never exactly held a firm hold on the closer role, as Michael Fulmer also received a good chunk of save opportunities. It remains to be seen if the Tigers will continue with Soto as part of a closer committee in 2022, give him a clearer opportunity as the ninth-inning man, or perhaps go in another direction entirely and acquire another closer. Regardless, Soto has certainly done enough to earn himself a spot in Detroit’s late-game mix.
Hill was the 23rd overall pick of the 2014 draft, and he mostly appeared as a pinch-runner and defensive sub over 15 games in his debut season in 2020. Getting a longer look this year, Hill hit .259/.313/.388 with three home runs over 150 plate appearances, though he also missed about a month total in two separate IL stints (shoulder sprain, ribcage contusion).
Hill’s bat has been a question mark throughout much of his minor league career, though he batted .320/.377/.504 over 141 PA for Toledo this season. A right-handed hitter, Hill has a .311/.353/.459 slash line in 63 PA against southpaw pitching this year, which bodes well for his chances of sticking in the majors as at least a platoon player. Hill is known for excellent speed (160 steals in 206 chances in the minors) and defensive ability, though metrics are split on his glovework in center field this season.