Should Sori Get His Job Back?Posted: August 11, 2011
The Yankees were supposed to have arguably the best bullpen in the Majors heading into this season. Rafael Soriano and his big contract were supposed to counter the non-acquisition of Cliff Lee by solidifying the back end of the pen along with Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain. We are now in August and a lot has changed – Soriano has been on the disabled list and for the early part of the season, he was not living up to the money he was being paid. Now he’s healthy and pitching better, so should he get the eighth inning back?
Soriano had thrown one perfect inning before going on the disabled list with some sort of elbow issue and that was on Opening Day. Besides that, David Robertson and Joba have proven that they are every bit as good as Sori if not better. People weren’t sure if it was the new role that was getting to him, if it was that he was pitching New York or what, but nobody liked it. Even when he went on the DL, the pen thrived thanks to Robertson and Cory Wade.
The supposed eighth inning guy made his first appearance off the shelf on July 30 against the Orioles to pitch the ninth inning of a complete blow out. Since then, Joe Girardi has been trying to work him into more pressure-filled situations. He has pitched a total of five innings since coming back and hasn’t allowed a run, a hit, or a walk while striking out five. I know it’s a small sample, but it is encouraging.
The most encouraging sign was probably last night when he entered a 7-2 game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh inning and threw four pitches to induce a ground ball double play and then a fly ball. It was great to see him get out of a big jam and it might be the last test he is given to prove he is back to normal.
A healthy and effective Soriano should definitely re-claim the eighth inning role. That would allow David Robertson to go back to the seventh inning or even better, maybe his fireman role. If a Yankee starter can go six strong innings and hand the pen a lead, the game will be essentially over. The strength of the back end of the bullpen will make up for a weaker starting rotation.