Many fans were wondering what Kansas City Royals closer, Joakim Soria, would pitch like coming off of a not so Soria-like season in 2011. Well that question will not get answered as the UCL tendon in Soria’s pitching arm has damage and he will not be a part of the Royal’s bullpen for some time. That being said, who will step in to fill his shoes and close the door for the bullpen this season.
The Royal’s have set themselves up to have a more than a few options at that position. Second year pitcher Greg Holland would be the obvious pick as he was electric last season and has been dominant during Spring Training this year. He has the power pitches to be able to blow people away but also the off speed to tie hitters up and the plate. But what separates him from other in the organization is his mind set and demeanor. Never do you see him in the media or as a real outgoing person. He has a calm, cool, and collected personality that fits that of a closer. If he strikes a guy out, he walks the same way around the mound as if he had just given up a game tying home run. His temperament is key to his success this season.
If Holland does not get the role, former closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jonathan Broxton, would fall into place like the last corner piece of a puzzle. With having experience at that role before in his career he does have the leg up on everyone else competing for the closers spot. Yet he is much like Holland as a pitcher with power but some finesse, he does show a little emotion out on the mound. His big positive as a closer is the fact that he is so big in stature that he has an intimidating persona while out on the hill. One thing that could hinder his progress this season, is the elbow trouble that he had in 2011 that lead to surgery on that elbow. Could be a deterrent for Ned Yost while making the decision.
But this season’s surprise from Surprise could be the quick ascension of young Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera. He will most likely now make the Royals opening day roster now that not only Soria is out with an injury but also Blake Wood is out for an extended period of time as well. Herrera is just a guy who you can sit and watch pitch and you are astonished with what he can do on the mound. To say that he has electric stuff is an understatement. The one thing that has been discovered with Herrera is the fact that when he pitches you will want to stop and watch. Kind of like the fact that the ball sounds differently coming off of the bat of a Billy Butler or an Eric Hosmer, the baseball just comes out of Herrera’s hand like no one that I have seen for a long time in Kansas City. Though he is young his season could end up going much like that of Aaron Crow’s 2011. He could show that he has a great future in Kansas City and may get a chance to have a few if saves early in the season and solidify his role in the bullpen for years to come.
Sooner rather the later the Royals should make a decision on who will be the closer that way whomever it is can get into that kind of mindset before the season starts on April the sixth. The fact that the Royals have many options to fill in as the closer is a huge positive because the player or players that do not get the nod will be de facto seventh and eighth inning guys. The depth that the Royals have all across the diamond is key to the success for this season, but the depth of pitchers that will both be in the bullpen at the major league level and also in the minor leagues will be a huge lift if anyone else goes down to injury.