Detroit Tigers 2014 Grades: Joakim Soria

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Incomplete. . RP. Detroit Tigers. JOAKIM SORIA

Prior to the addition of David Price just minutes before the trading deadline, the Detroit Tigers made a bold move to improve their tattered bullpen by trading Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel to the Texas Rangers for their closer, Joakim Soria.  This was a name, along with Joaquin Benoit, that came up often in the weeks and months leading to the trading deadline. So Tigers’ fans were fairly excited when the team landed him.

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Of course things did not go to plan.

Because Soria appeared in just 15 games in the regular season and playoffs post-trade, we have no clear basis for giving the reliever a grade. Thus his mark stands at incomplete.

When the trade was made on July 23, Joe Nathan was having one of his worst stretches of the season, but the Tigers made it clear as soon as the acquisition was made that Soria would not supplant Nathan as closer. Instead he’d be used as a seventh inning option.

Problem was, the Tigers rarely found themselves in need of a seventh inning pre-setup man because either the starter was pitching into the seventh or the team was trailing. Manager Brad Ausmus seemingly painted himself into a corner with his unwillingness to push Nathan and had no clear role for Soria.

That’s not to say Soria made the most of his scattered appearances at first. In fact he started miserable in a Tigers’ uniform, allowing six runs in his first three appearances. But after those three games, he allowed just one run over his last 10 appearances which were sandwiched with a couple of weeks on the disabled list.

Soria appeared twice in the ALDS and was placed in a very tough spot when Joba Chamberlain allowed a run in the eighth inning of Game 2 to pull Baltimore within two runs. He allowed former Tiger Delmon Young to basically win the series by allowing a three-run double. This followed an awful appearance in Game 1 when he allowed four runs on three hits in just a third of an inning.

Who knows how much of that was rust factor, nerves, or just sheer incompetence from player and manager, but for whatever reason I don’t believe we actually got to see the true Joakim Soria.

Soria has a team option for 2015. Dave Dombrowski was non-committal on whether the team would pick up his option, saying that decision would come after the World Series. With Chamberlain an unrestricted free agent, it seems likely the Tigers will bring Soria back and move him to an eighth inning role.

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