The 2011 season did not start the way Joakim Soria wanted it to.
Through April and May, he gave up 16 earned runs over 23 innings. He was 3-3 with 5 blown saves in 12 opportunities.
Nearly every Royals fan was calling for his removal from the closer role (or the entire team, in some cases). There was talk about trading him before his value went any lower, converting him to a starter, or possibly even demoting him.
Many said his career was over and that the Royals needed to start fresh with the younger, more exciting Aaron Crow.
Well, Ned Yost did end up giving Crow the closer role.
However, he made it clear that it wasn’t permanent and that he wanted Soria to work some things out as a middle reliever until he felt more comfortable on the mound.
He ended up pitching 5 scoreless innings in 3 games as a middle reliever, which was good enough for the Royals’ skipper.
Yost immediately gave Soria back the title as closer, which turned out to be one of his best decisions of the year.
Since that point, Soria only has 2 blown saves while giving up 11 earned runs in 35.1 innings. He has also had 41 strikeouts compared to 7 walks in that same time period.
These numbers might seem completely inaccurate to most Royals fans because it feels like he has been much worse over the past three and a half months.
The main reason for this is because his two blown saves since the 1st of June were the two most heartbreaking losses for the Royals in that span.
The first of the two came on July 30th against the Indians. The Royals gave Soria the ball with a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th. He gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game and a walk-off 3-run bomb by Matt LaPorta to end it.
Then came the Tampa Bay Rays game on August 10th. No Royals fan will forget this one, so there isn’t a need to go into great detail. Crow and Soria gave up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 8-7. It was the epitome of a heartbreaker for the Royals and their fans.
Other than those two games, Soria has been almost lights out. It’s hard for fans to see it, but he is back to his old self.
Wanting a trade or a role change for Soria needs to come to a stop. His first two months of this year were horrendous to say the least, but he has definitely regained his form.
Other than perhaps Greg Holland, Soria has been the most consistent pitcher for the Royals this year.
He is still the leader of the Royals’ bullpen and should continue to be as they make their push in the next couple of years.
A good closer is tough to come by, and the Royals have one in Soria.
It’d be a shame to mess that up as they get closer to becoming a real contender.