The KC Royals need to make a decision about the status of Jorge Soler.
There seem to be no ends to the struggles of, or uncertainty surrounding, Jorge Soler. The most powerful Royal and smasher of the club’s single-season home run record just two seasons ago entered the New York series slashing .183/.283/.329, abominable numbers for a player whose primary talent and value are as a DH.
But the KC brass remains stubborn when it comes to Soler, and there he was starting in right field Tuesday night. After grounding out twice, he walked to lead off the seventh but left immediately for pinch runner Jarrod Dyson, a move that, even with the score tied 2-2, seemed a bit premature for a power hitter with a good chance to see another at-bat in a close game.
Perhaps the chance to score a run with the much speedier Dyson was more important, but pulling Soler might have been a tacit recognition that the KC Royals are losing, or should be losing, confidence in their slugger.
Manager Mike Matheny made the same move Wednesday night, but after Soler doubled in the eighth with KC leading by a run. But it was still slightly odd—there were two outs, so because Soler would have been running on contact, speed wasn’t as much a consideration as it may have been the night before.
Soler didn’t start in Thursday’s series finale, but Matheny handled him curiously again by pinch-hitting him for Nicky Lopez with one out in the ninth. It just didn’t make sense.
Lopez is on a tear and, at the moment Matheny pulled him back, was 1-for-2 with a single and a walk and hitting .346 for June; Soler was 1-for-6 in the series and batting .200 for the month, and is much slower than Lopez. Although Kansas City’s chances in the game—the Royals were behind 8-1—weren’t good, their odds to get a runner on were far better with Lopez.
Soler struck out on four pitches.
Now, the player KC traded Wade Davis for is slashing .182/.282/.327 and is the team’s biggest disappointment of the season. He hasn’t homered for two weeks. He last drove in a run 10 days ago, and it’s been almost six weeks since his average topped .200.
It’s time for the KC Royals to move on from Soler.
The KC Royals won a game in New York. Little else happened that was good.