I knew there was something wrong. Joakim Soria did not look like himself during the spring training game against the Dodgers. He looked as though something was bothering him. I guessed an injury or maybe he was just not warmed up completely. He denied the thought that he was injured when he said he was feeling normal. He was taken out of a later game with soreness in his elbow. That soreness turned out to be damage in Soria’s ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, as reported by Bob Dutten. This ligament is the same ligament involved in a Tommy John surgery. Soria has already experienced the dreadful Tommy John surgery in 2003. He may need the surgery again which will shut him down for the entire 2012 season.
With Soria out for quite some time, there are shoes to fill. Soria has held the role of the closer for nearly 5 years. He has managed to save a career high of 43 saves in 2010. He is a two time All-Star and finished 10th in the Cy Young race in 2010. The role is a major need because the last three outs of any game are always the toughest. There are three options that managed Ned Yost has been dealt. Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Broxton are all candidates to fill Soria’s role.
While Aaron Crow was once fighting for a spot on the starting rotation, I feel with his success he had in the bullpen last year he needs to stay in the bullpen. Crow was an All-Star last year and was lights out in his setup role. Crow should remain in the setup role because he was so successful in that position last year. When Crow pitches he does not dominate hitters like most closers throughout the league, and therefore, while many fans might want to see him as the closer, I’m not so sure that’s the right fit for him. Crow may be able to be a closer in the future but for now the Royals should keep him shutting down opposing teams during the 7th and 8th innings.
Newly acquired Jonathan Broxton, who will do more then fill Soria’s role… considering he is around 300 lbs. Broxton was once a closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a two time All-Star in the closer role. Broxton’s experience puts himself right with Crow and Holland for the closer role. With Broxton’s overpowering fastball that reaches the mid to upper 90’s he can overwhelm hitters to get the final three outs of the game. While Broxton has had injury problems before, the Royals were willing to take a chance on signing the free agent for 1 years and $4 million. With that much money invested in a reliever the Royals are expecting to get the Broxton that was once a dominant figure, not just in the buffet line.
Greg Holland has all the stuff to be a successful closer. He is the answer. Holland overwhelmed the opposing hitters last year as just a rookie. He has been able to maintain his dominace through spring so far. Holland has a filthy slider to go along with his 94 MPH fastball. Holland proved that he could dominate hitters with a 1.80 ERA last year. Holland should take over the closer role because of the success he had last year. When watching Holland pitch you can see why he would be successful as a closer. He makes it seem so easy to strikeout big league hitters. If help is needed closing a game out he should be the first selected from the pen.
Holland will be given the first shot in the closer role but it will be a tight race for who ends up with the coveted role. All three candidates could be given a shot at the role, but there can only be one. All three will most likely close out games through out the season. Having to choose between three players that can get the job done is a nice problem to have if you are Ned Yost. The injury of Soria is extremely minor compared to the injury of Salvador Perez.