It didn't take Joakim Soria too long to make an impact with his new club.
After not pitching in the bigs since the end of 2011 and making his debut with the Texas Rangers this month, after signing this winter, Soria has shown what made him an all-star closer with the Kansas City Royals who saved more than 40 games multiple times.
So far, the 29-year-old has pitched three innings in three games for the Rangers, given up one hit and no runs. On Saturday, Rangers manager Ron Washington gave him his first shot in a high-leverage situation and he came through in a big way, holding the Detroit Tigers in the eighth inning of a three-run game that eventually became more and kept Joe Nathan from needing to pitch the ninth. But still, Soria did his job as a set-up man.
Now, Soria will officially share the eighth-inning role with Tanner Scheppers, who started the season on fire and was actually in the AL fan vote for the final All-Star Game spot but has fallen on rough times recently, most likely out of tiredness since the entire bullpen has been overworked through the season's first half.
“We’re still going to send Scheppers out there in the eighth inning and one night it might be Scheppers and one night it might be Soria,” Washington told ESPN Dallas prior to Texas’ series finale against Detroit at Comerica Park. “We’re very fortunate to have two guys that can give us the innings in that part of the game that we need. This way we keep both of them strong.”
Sounds like a pretty sound plan, and one that will be good for both pitchers.
Scheppers has already thrown 44 innings with a 1.84 ERA, a number that seems great but is inflated in recent weeks with some rough outings. Having Soria there at Washington's disposal will be a breath of fresh air for Scheppers' arm and should only help both. It also provides great insurance if something were to happen to the aging, seemingly bionic-armed Joe Nathan and the Rangers were suddenly without their all-star closer.