May
16

Injuries give Soriano a chance to shine

By

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Rafael Soriano‘s tenure in New York hasn’t exactly been a pleasant experience. First Brian Cashman stood at the introductory press conference and made sure everyone knew he didn’t want to sign the guy, then Soriano struggled for the first few weeks of 2011 before hitting the DL with the latest elbow injury in a career full of them. Through his first 16 or so months in pinstripes, Soriano has pitched to a 3.71 ERA (3.67 FIP) in 53.1 innings as the fourth highest paid reliever in baseball.

In the span of two weeks, Soriano has gone from seventh inning guy to one of the most important players on the Yankees’ roster. Mariano Rivera‘s season is over thanks to this torn right ACL and yesterday we learned that David Robertson will miss at least 15 days with a left oblique strain. The seventh inning guy is now the closer, the same role that landed him that much-criticized contract after a stellar 2010 season with the Rays.

“I put everything away, came back this year, and whatever inning I’ll try to be there and try to be comfortable,” said Soriano on Monday. “They give me the opportunity, and to me, I’ll try to do the best I can.”

The Yankees need Soriano to be the best he can be right now. With all due respect to Cory Wade, Boone Logan, and the team’s other relievers, bridging the gap between starter and closer will be much more difficult with Mo and Robertson on shelf. Soriano has to be that rock in the ninth inning, nailing down wins with the leads he is given regardless of size. Frankly, he needs to elevate his performance a bit and actually have a 1-2-3 inning every once in a while (still zero of those in 2012). No one’s asking for miracles, just a stress-free appearance every so often.

“You know, to me, I don’t think nothing changed,” said Soriano prior to last night’s game. “Sometimes, something happens like that and you got to keep going, because we lost Mariano first and the bullpen tried to do whatever it had to do. Now, with two guys down, it’s not going to be easy for us. We’re trying to be together, the bullpen and the team, and win.”

Robertson has reportedly been told that he’ll be able to return after the minimum 15 days, but Soriano can’t look at it like that. He has an opportunity to seize the closer’s job for the rest of the season and into the playoffs, and he also has a chance to change the fans’ perception of him. Soriano has the ability to be an elite reliever but hasn’t performed up to that level in New York and I think there’s a lot of disdain for him because of it, fair or not. The injuries give him a chance to step up and truly become an integral part of the roster, not just another overpaid under-performer.

Categories : Death by Bullpen

44 Comments»

  1. Across the pond says:

    Did he not have his first 1-2-3 the other day?

    Not that having your first in May is any achievement.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Is MFIKY the best nickname in sports? I think so.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    i hope he kills it (even though i hate him) closes every game in the playoffs and ws 1-2-3 then opts out

  4. Lord Tywin says:

    I’m glad that Soriano has been given the chance to show what he can do. Robertson isn’t ready and that was apparent vs the Rays. Soriano has that expierience closing out ballgames and that will prove invaluable for the rest of this season.

    • gc says:

      So Robertson, who has been the most effective reliever in baseball (and on the Yankees) the past two seasons, showing consistent ability to get HUGE outs when he needs them, has one bad inning (which happens to even the best closers) and that convinces you “he’s not ready”?? Yeah, the timing was bad, but seriously, come in off the ledge.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Especially since Soriano has been oh so dominant as a setup man.

      • TomH says:

        So Robertson, who has been the most effective reliever in baseball (and on the Yankees) the past two seasons, showing consistent ability to get HUGE outs when he needs them, has one bad inning (which happens to even the best closers) and that convinces you “he’s not ready”??

        Perhaps he just means that a closer needs to be more economical than Robertson, in his incarnation as Houdini, has shown himself to be. If that were what he meant, it would be a reasonable argument. It wouldn’t mean that Soriano is somehow ideal, only that Robertson needed more seasoning, in the setup role, before stepping into the limelight.

        • jsbrendog says:

          most closers are uneconomical. almost every team has a guy that makes they need tums.

        • Manny's BanWagon says:

          Robertson has plenty of seasoning and even in a setup role, he will invariably get himself into a jam so I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He’s already been in the “limelight” with the Yankees for a few years now.

          As closer, the only thing that counts is getting the save and the aesthetics of doing so is really irrelevant except from a fans perspective.

  5. Yank The Frank says:

    So now are the final outs to be CoBoSo?

  6. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    The bullpen issues may not be such an issue if the bats don’t wake up.

  7. Cuso says:

    “He has an opportunity to seize the closer’s job for the rest of the season and into the playoffs, ….has a chance to change the fans’ perception of him….has the ability to be an elite reliever … a chance to step up and truly become an integral part of the roster.”

    Yep. All of this.

    Now what are you gonna do with this opportunity, Sori?

    • LarryM.,Fl. says:

      The injury to D-rob is unfortunate but at least it does not appear to be bad. I know D-Rob was the apparent MO replacement but Soriano closed 45 games for the Rays and did it well. The injury to Robertson may be a small fortunate incident that one will make Robertson throw within his abilities and not over throw . It may offer opportunities to him at a slower pace. Occasional closing duties throughout the season when Soriano is off for the day.

  8. RetroRob says:

    I would be quite happy is Soriano was lights out as the closer for the next couple of weeks, and D-Rob returned to the 8th when he comes of the DL. Whatever makes the Yankees stronger, and if Sori takes to the regular work of the closer’s role again, then it’s all good.

  9. chmch says:

    That winning Sori personality might be a positive in the 9th. He comes in kinda pissed off. Not a bad thing when the heat is turned up. Yeah, we had A Gentleman & A Scholar forever coming out of the pen, but bad guy relievers work too. On another note, DR should spend his time on the DL looking for a new theme song.

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