What’s even better than watching baseball? Managing your own team, that’s what.
Though it doesn’t receive as much love as it’s football counterpart, fantasy baseball is an absolute blast for MLB fanatics of all ages. As with each new season, big questions for “managers” loom. I’ll take some weight off your shoulders and tell you to draft Mike Trout first overall no matter what and stay away from Corey Kluber. Aside from that, fair game.
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More time than not the later rounds of a fantasy draft separate the boys from the men. If you want to be a man this summer, draft either Joakim Soria because they will eventually se playing time. Now, I’m not saying to rely on them as our daily reliever; but to have them on the bench would be a wise move considering the inevitable demise of Joe Nathan.
The veteran reliever, as we are all aware, has had a rough time on the field ever since signing a two year/$20 million contract with the Tigers in December 2013. Nathan compiled a 4.81 ERA in 2014 and had the fourth most blown saves in the MLB with 7. Mind you, Nathan did rack up 35 saves, but we all know the pain and misery that came along with those saves last season. This spring training hasn’t been much better, considering Nathan exited a game in early March to boos. You know it’s bad when boos are being received in a situation that does not matter at all.
James Schmehl of MLive explains one of Nathan’s rough outings:
"There was still reason to be concerned with Nathan and his outing. His two-seam fastball topped out at 90, and he regularly hit 88-89 mph on the radar gun. He threw five consecutive balls and had trouble locating both his slider and curveball."
Another factor to consider would be the hot water Nathan already has himself in, meaning a much lower tolerance for poor performances this season. Motor City Bengals’ Tom Zahari explains Nathan’s situation in an article for the Detroit Free Press:
"Nathan’s shelf life as closer will come down to how long of a leash Brad Ausmus has for him and the effectiveness of his slider. The leash must be shorter than last season, especially with Joakim Soria waiting in the wings as the eighth-inning man. The Tigers also have their “closer of the future” healthy again in Bruce Rondon, who could also serve as another closer option if he performs well.If Nathan doesn’t perform closer to his 2013 numbers, he could get the hook from the closer’s role by the 40-game mark. One thing is certain, Nathan will not be a fan favorite in Detroit this season and he will be under scrutiny the entire season."
Joe Nathan has been around since Conestoga Wagons were still used as a form of mass transit. Honestly, it would not shock me if he was taken out of the closers role by the 40-game mark. Drafting Soria would be a great snag as he is having respectable spring outings and would be next in line to the closing throne. For those who believe youngster Bruce Rondon would take the position over Soria, it just doesn’t seem likely to happen. Rondon is the closer of the future but for coming off a season in which he was on the DL all year and a decent amount of control issues, Soria wins that battle every time.
Not all too long ago, back in 2010, Soria racked up 43 saves while a member of the Kansas City Royals and sported a 1.73 ERA that same season. After injuries bogged him down for a few seasons he made a triumphant MLB return with the Texas Rangers in 2014, collecting 17 saves before being trading to Detroit. Many lost confidence in Soria after a poor showing with the Tigers, but I firmly believe it was a combination of injury and misuse that did Soria in.
The Mexico native is used to being a closer and it’s also where he has found the most success in his career. Soria would be welcomed with open arms to the closing role, and with the Tigers predicted to win the AL Central it seems as though there’s plenty of save opportunities.
When drafting, don’t forget about Joakim “The Dream” Soria.