Doing the same thing but expecting a different result. According to Albert Einstein, that’s the definition of insanity. For KC Royals skipper Ned Yost, it’s the way to manage a baseball game. Yost has continued to turn to Joakim Soria, who blew his fourth save of the season in Monday’s 10-7 loss to Detroit.
Four blown saves might not seem like many. The baseball season is long, after all. But Monday’s game was just the KC Royals 50th of the season. Soria has pitched in just 23 of those games. Detroit’s Francisco Rodriguez leads the league with five blown saves in 19 appearances, and Texas’ Sam Dyson has four blown saves in just 16 appearances.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
Things had been looking up for the 33-year-old Soria, who more or less blew 12 games for the Royals last season, though officially he registered just seven blown saves in 70 appearances. He threw 10 shutout innings to start the 2017 season, allowing just five hits in that stretch. His first blown save came on April 28 when he allowed three earned runs on three hits in less than an inning against Minnesota.
On May 6, against another Central foe in Cleveland, Soria allowed three hits and an earned run in a game the Indians went on to win 3-1. Kansas City led 1-0 into the eighth in that game.
Soria’s worst outing of the season game Monday night. The Royals had already rebounded from Detriot’s six-run fifth, and Soria entered the game with a 7-6 lead in the eighth. All five batters he faced reached on two walks and three hits, and four came around to score. All four of those runs were earned.
It’s more difficult to call out Soria – and Yost for continuing to use him in high-leverage situations – this year than it was last. Even with Monday’s numbers, Soria is still sixth on the team with a 3.18 ERA. Take away the two guys with a combined eight innings of work, and Soria moves to No. 4 on the team.
Yost has made some changes to try and get his club back in the win column. He moved Alcides Escobar to the top of the order despite Escobar’s struggles this season. He has utilized Jorge Bonifacio and Whit Merrifield more. Those moves have contributed to Kansas City’s offensive surge in recent weeks.
But it does no good to build a lead if you can’t keep it. The KC Royals built the best bullpen in baseball in 2014 and 2015, and the result was back-to-back appearances in the World Series. Having a high-leverage guy like Soria blow one in six leads simply will not cut it.
At 21-29 heading into Tuesday’s game with Detroit, those four blown saves loom large – without them, the Royals could be sitting at .500 with a 25-25 record, right behind Central-leading Minnesota. Instead, Kansas City entered Tuesday’s game 6.5 games back.
No one is saying scrap Soria completely. His numbers are decent enough to secure him a spot in the bullpen. The call is to use a different guy to hold those late-game leads.
"Let’s turn KC Royals reliever Mike Minor into Andrew Miller"
Yost’s managing abilities were oft called into question before those successful 2014 and 2015 years. The players bailed him out. With the 2017 KC Royals struggling, the attention is back on the Yost. This season, wins are too valuable to blow on bad decisions.