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In Which Our Joakim Soria Anxieties Return

Although he only allowed one run, and a weak one, last night, our worrying over Joakim Soria is back. Way back on April 6th, I pushed the panic button just as fast as I could, citing an erosion of his swinging strike numbers. However, looking to be patient and be trying to be aware of sample size and not noticing too many problems at the macro level, I buried that anxiety and then slowly forgot about it. I did create a sidebar widget, that I promptly forgot to update very often.

Earlier this week, the Royals said that they had spotted a flaw in Soria's delivery, a story that boringly didn't involve Eric Hosmer. OK, well, problem solved. Or not. At least not right away. Here are Soria's strikeout related numbers:

2011 2010 2009
Swinging Strike % 6.1% 9.5% 13.3%
Strikeout % 15.3% 26.3% 31.1%

Soria's swinging strike and strikeout numbers aren't as bad as they were back on April 6th, when both were hovering below 5%. However, both are still clearly down. Soria's margin for error is getting smaller. In these two related numbers, you can see a clear decline.

Our closer has been around as long as the Book of Tobit in baseball time. Every trick he's got has been seen twenty times over at this point, which includes a general repertoire shift he began moving towards two or three years ago. The sublimely dominant Soria of 2008-09 might be gone and he might not be coming back.

Importantly however, it is important to note that Soria wasn't that bad last night. The leadoff walk to something called Gentry was bad, but on the year Soria's walk numbers are down, not up. The Rangers then scratched out a run thanks to a bunt and a single, so good on them. Elvis Andrus hit a single to tie the game. That's going to happen. Moreover, if Soria was working on a altered delivery, we might expect some bumps along the way. No reason to panic. Soria's FIP (4.00) and xFIP (4.52)  are up considerably this season, but they aren't so bad that a player with his track record should be dismissed as done.

On the whole, we're back to the beginning here. There isn't a crisis with Soria, although he does bear watching as we move through the season.