Detroit Tigers Heroes and Zeroes Week 11

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Jun 21, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joakim Soria (38) pitches during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Detroit Tigers won 12-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

#4 Zero: Joakim Soria

We discussed how Ian Krol has a knack for allowing homers out of the bullpen, which is very troubling for a reliever. But perhaps more troubling is Joakim Soria‘s struggles lately, especially with the long ball.

I hesitate to call Soria the Detroit Tigers’ “closer” because quite frankly in the month of June, he has not been their closer, though that is really no fault of his own. In the 17 games the Tigers have played prior to Monday’s game in Cleveland, the team has only been in a save situation for the closer twice.

The “blown save” is often a misleading stat because it not only relates to closers. While a reliever in the sixth, seventh or eighth who inherits a lead can never receive a save (unless they go three innings which is very rare) but they can receive a blown save if the opponents tie or take the lead.

So while the Tigers have a ton of blown saves this month, Soria only has one of them, back on June 5 against the Chicago White Sox. He received a save in his next appearance on June 7 but has not been in a save situation since. In fact in the three weeks since that save, he has only appeared in three games and the rust is clearly apparent.

Soria has allowed a homer in each of his last four outings (including Monday’s game which doesn’t technically count in last week’s tally), two of those came in garbage time, June 14 vs Cleveland and Sunday against the Yankees, but the one against the Reds ended the game in extra innings on a Grand Slam.

Soria needs to be better, but he needs to be utilized more. We saw this last year when he was used sparingly after coming over in trade but he was sharp when used more often. Part of that is situational, the Tigers are not finding themselves in save situations, but part of it is that Brad Ausmus struggles at using relievers in the right circumstances.

Next: The Return of Anibal