As if Salvador Perez’s injury wasn’t enough, now we get news that Joakim Soria may miss some significant time, and quite possibly the entire 2012 season.
Soria was throwing in the 5th inning of Sunday’s win over the Indians when he started to feel some pain in his right elbow. He proceeded to throw another pitch before signaling to Ned Yost and trainer Nick Kenney to come out to the mound, where they all mutually agreed that his elbow was of more concern than the next pitch.
Yost and Soria both stated after the game that the pain was of great concern. Yost said, “”When guys start to have problems, the first thing that goes is their command a lot of times, and Jack was throwing the ball with good velocity, but he just wasn’t the Jack that we’ve known — where he’s been able to get out and extend on his pitches.”
Joakim definitely hasn’t been pitching like the All-Star he once was. We all know about his struggles at the beginning of last season, and now they have seemed to carry over into Spring Training. In just 3.1 IP, Soria’s been knocked around to the tune of 10 hits (.556 AVG against), 7 runs (all earned), and a whopping 3.30 WHIP.
An MRI on Monday revealed a potentially serious issue: damage to Soria’s ulnar collateral ligament. The very same ligament that forced him to have Tommy John surgery back in 2003.
So if Soria has to undergo his second Tommy John surgery, he will most definitely be out for the season.
But unlike with the Salvador Perez injury, the Royals have other options who could fill in for Soria and possibly not miss a beat. Actually… They have 3 potential replacements.
Greg Holland, Jonathan Broxton, and Aaron Crow, with Holland and Broxton serving as two obvious front-runners for the position.
Holland had a stellar 2011 season, and was possibly the best pitcher on the roster last year. He had a 1.80 ERA in 60 IP while recording 74 K’s, a .175 AVG against, a 0.933 WHIP, 18 Holds, 4 Saves, and a 2.6 WAR. He has all of the intangibles of a big league closer.
Broxton has the track record on his side. He’s a 2-time All-Star closer, who recorded 58 Saves in 2009-10 and has a career 11.5 K/9 rate for his career. He’s an intimidating figure on the mound, given his 6’4″ 300 lbs. frame and the fact that he has the ability to dial up his fastball to 100 MPH. But he’s coming off an injury that sidelined him for pretty much all of 2011 and has to prove that he’s ready to take the reigns once again.
Crow was “technically” the closer for about a week in 2011 after Soria was briefly demoted from the position. But Crow never saw a save opportunity before Soria was reinstated to his rightful position. Even though he was a rookie who had never pitched above Double A up until last season, Crow earned a spot on the AL All-Star roster. His season tailed off after the All-Star break a bit, but he still had an overall exceptional season. In 57 games (62 IP), Crow had a 2.76 ERA with 65 K to 31 BB and a 2.1 WAR.
So, IF Soria is out for the season, who would you like to see assume the closer’s role? Greg Holland, Jonathan Broxton, or Aaron Crow?