Riding Out SoriPosted: April 27, 2011
During the off-season when the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to that three year deal worth $35 million and two opt-out clauses included, they made their bullpen arguably the best in the Majors. Soriano is veteran who has been setting up for teams since the early-mid 2000’s and spent two seasons as a closer. He flourished as a set up guy for the Mariners and Braves and then closed for one season with the Braves and one for the Rays.
So when the Yanks got him this Winter to be their eighth inning guy, the thought was that there wasn’t going to be a problem adjusting because he had set up for teams in the past and was successful. There’s no way he could lose his ability to pitch in the eighth inning in two years.
So what’s going on with Sori? He has only struck out seven hitters while walking eight and giving up 12 hits. He is also sporting a 7.84 ERA, a 54 ERA+, and a 1.94 WHIP. Even when he doesn’t allow runs in the innings he pitches, I find myself holding my breath because he lets guys on base. It is obvious that he isn’t pitching like the Rafael Soriano that the Bombers signed to that ridiculous contract. So what could it be.
Well, with all of the focus on Phil Hughes and his velocity troubles, there hasn’t been much of a focus on Soriano’s. His fastball isn’t what it has been in the past as until last night, he was hitting the low 90’s. According to Rafael, this is nothing to worry about because the same thing happened last season and he recaptured it by the end of April. With this lesser velocity coupled with the fact that he isn’t locating the ball too well is yielding these bad results.
However, last night was different. Soriano was touching the mid-high 90’s range that we got used to seeing in 2010. His fastball was electric and so was his other stuff, but his control still wasn’t there. I am now not worried at all about him because I know it is just a matter of time before he settles in.
When asked about Soriano, Joe Girardi responded the way you would expect (via Bryan Hoch) :
“You’ve got to fight your way out of it,” Girardi said. “You keep using the guys. You get them on track. I haven’t lost any confidence in Rafael Soriano. This is a very good pitcher that just happened to give up a two-run homer.”
This is the way he has to play it because you aren’t going to lose trust in a guy you know can mow down any hitter in the eighth inning. He makes the Yanks bullpen so much better and deeper, so Yankee fans just need to be a little patient.