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Joakim Soria’s struggles should have Royals worried

May 25, 2011, 1:49 PM EDT

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals Getty Images

For a long time Joakim Soria was a rare bright spot on terrible Royals teams, closing out their few late-inning leads with dominance, but now that the Royals are playing a little better and the influx of young talent has started migrating to Kansas City he’s struggling.

Soria blew a save and took a loss yesterday, allowing three runs to the Orioles as his ERA ballooned to 5.18. Early season ERA figures can be misleading, particularly for relievers with just 15-20 innings, but Soria’s other numbers paint a similarly gloomy picture.

Prior to this season he struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but that has dropped to 6.1 per nine innings so far this year. Similarly his walk rate has risen from 2.5 per nine innings to 4.7 per nine innings. And he’s allowed opponents to hit .268 with a .774 OPS after previously holding them to .197 with a .546 OPS.

Twenty bad innings hardly means Soria is washed up at age 27, but his ERA rising from 2.01 to 5.18 while his secondary numbers all collapse and his average fastball velocity falls from 91.9 miles per hour to 90.3 mph is worrisome for an improving team that may soon have a whole lot more late-inning leads for their stud closer to protect. Remarkably, if you remove Soria’s numbers the rest of the Royals’ bullpen has a 3.79 ERA.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - May 25, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    He’s obviously hurt and trying to pitch through it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shelved and/or operated upon by the all-star break.

    • tomemos - May 25, 2011 at 11:42 PM

      But after that he’ll go right back to perfect dominance, right? After all, you’d take his career over that of almost any starting pitcher. And if that career amounted to just four years of less than 70 innings a year, you’d end up looking pretty idiotic.

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 26, 2011 at 3:56 AM

        I would take the last 3 years of Soria over the last 3 years of Cain. That’s my opinion and I’ll stick with it. You want to gloat because a guy is pitching injured, then who is the one that really looks idiotic?

  2. pellypell - May 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    I grabbed Louis Coleman in my keeper league as Soria insurance.

    • sportsdrenched - May 25, 2011 at 2:08 PM

      I would have grabbed Aaron Crow…if he was out there.

      Soria has hardly thrown his curve all season, and hasn’t been ahead in a count in almost as long. He’s definatly hurt.

  3. pellypell - May 25, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    He wasn’t. Playing for 2012, so I’ll let them fight it out this year and hope my 5 dollar Coleman comes through.

  4. thetoast74 - May 25, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Well, from all reports Soria is still the closer….stubborn Yost refuses to yank him from the role…hopefully it’s just lip service…the job should be Crow’s.

  5. royalsfaninfargo - May 25, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    if not giving the job outright to crow, at least give him a chance to see what he can do.

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