Joakim Soria's velocity ticked up again in 2016, this time to a career-high 92.5 mph, but that was about the only good news for the veteran. He finished the season with career highs in ERA (4.05), FIP (4.36) and WHIP (1.46), and he needed extra rest between appearances as the season winded down. The Royals continued to use him in a setup role despite his struggles. A three-year deal signed before the 2016 season means Soria probably isn't going anywhere soon, but it's hard to see him getting regular save opportunities as long as Kelvin Herrera is healthy. Soria is also on the wrong side of 30 and has undergone two Tommy John surgeries, so he's a major injury risk as well.
Royals manager Ned Yost said he'll monitor Soria's usage more carefully, giving the reliever more rest between appearances, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports. Soria's had a tough week, blowing two saves while pitching on zero days rest. His ERA in such situations is 4.26 in 12.2 innings and even worse on one day of rest (4.57 in 21.2 innings). As such, Yost is considering two days of rest for Soria, who has a 0.98 ERA with 25 strikes over 18.1 innings when pitching with two or more days rest. "You go back and look at his numbers, specifically two days off in between, they're fantastic," Yost said. "Where he's run into trouble in the last three weeks has been times where I've used him back-to-back."
Soria has remained in a setup role for the Royals during the absence of Wade Davis (forearm). Although Soria rebounded from giving up an eventual game-winning homer to Brad Miller on Thursday by striking out a pair during a scoreless frame Friday, Kelvin Herrera appears to have a firm grasp on the ninth-inning role for the time being with Davis on the shelf. Through 47 appearances, Soria has posted the highest ERA (4.40) and WHIP (1.49) numbers of his career.
Soria could see save chances with Wade Davis (forearm) landing on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. Manager Ned Yost's claim that "everyone moves up a slot" with Davis out, per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, would seem to hint at Kelvin Herrera getting most of the chances in ninth inning. However, Yost would not commit to Herrera and suggested he will mix and match in the later innings. Soria is striking batters out at a career-low 21.4 percent clip and his walk rate is pushing 10 percent (4.08 FIP), but he does have 203 career saves under his belt. Davis hopes to return after the minimum 15 days.
Soria (2-2) only lasted two-thirds of an inning, allowing two hits and two runs to blow his second save of the year Thursday against Cleveland. With Wade Davis unavailable, Soria was called to seal the deal, but he failed to deliver after he allowed the game-winning run on a sac fly to Mike Napoli. Soria has been effective (for the most part) as a late-inning reliever, but he's blown two of his three save chances this season. His 3.81 ERA and 1.26 WHIP aren't exactly sexy, either.
Soria (2-1) pitched two innings of perfect ball in Saturday's 2-1 victory over the White Sox, striking out one. The 32-year-old stymied the struggling White Sox, notching his fifth straight scoreless outing. Soria has been largely effective in May after a rough April, posting a 1-0 record, 1.59 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over 11.1 innings during the month.