Free Soria

Last December 4, the Texas Rangers signed former Royals closer Joakim Soria to a two-year deal with a club option for a third.  Soria, a two-time All-Star, missed the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.  He would also not be available for the first half of this season.
Despite Soria’s injury and his subsequent lengthy layoff, Jon Daniels still felt confident about an eventual return to form.  It was a gamble that could very likely pay huge dividends, so long as the team could remain patient.  At the time he signed Soria, J.D. was hopeful for a possible return to action by May.  And while that proved a bit overly optimistic, the team didn’t have to wait too terribly much longer, as Soria made his debut in a Texas uniform on July 7.

As of this writing (the morning of September 6), Soria has appeared in 16 games for the Rangers in 2013, with an ERA of 3.00 and 14 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.  It would make sense for the team to gradually ease him back into action, given the fact that he missed a full season and half of another, but his workload has inexplicably tapered off in recent weeks.

Soria has only appeared in four of the Rangers’ last 19 games.  During that same timeframe, Tanner Scheppers has made nine appearances, Robbie Ross has made eight, and Neal Cotts has also made eight.  The only two rational explanations for such a pronounced lack of usage are either injury or poor performance, but neither seem to be applicable.

There has been nothing said by the Rangers about Soria being hurt, nor has anything even been hinted at or speculated by those who cover the team on a daily basis.  That doesn’t mean it’s not possible he might be injured, but it does seem highly unlikely.

As for his performance, Soria has not surrendered a run in any of his previous four outings, and only allowed one hit in those four innings.  He struck out four and only walked one during those appearances, so it’s clearly not a case of poor performance – quite the contrary, in fact.  Meanwhile, Scheppers had three poor outings during that same timeframe and we all witnessed the brutal implosion of Ross in Oakland on Wednesday (four ER on 15 pitches without retiring a single batter).

In all likelihood, this probably boils down to being a case of Ron Washington not yet fully trusting Soria, for whatever reason.  As we’ve seen many times in the past, especially with relievers, it takes quite a while for Wash to feel comfortable enough with a guy to play him regularly.

Soria certainly has done nothing but give Wash every reason to trust him, so let’s just hope Wash soon sees what we all see.  At this point in the season, guys like Ross, Scheppers and Cotts are starting to show signs of wear from overuse.  Now is the time to cash in on that investment J.D. made and allow Soria to start paying dividends for the Rangers when they need it the most here in this stretch run.

It’s time for Wash to free Soria.

ob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at or  on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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