Joakim Soria might very well be closing out important playoff games for the first time in his career this season ...
For the Tigers.
One of the only silver linings of Royals fandom over the last decade will now be playing a vital role for the antagonists in Kansas City's one-way rivalry with Detroit. You can't really call it a rivalry without modifying it as such since the Tigers have dominated the AL Central and the Royals ... haven't.
Soria is having a vintage Jack season -- maybe even better than vintage. In 33⅓ innings, he has a 2.70 ERA, a 1.07 FIP, and a 42 to 4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And more than half of that has come at Globe Life Park (formerly the Ballpark at Arlington). He has 17 saves so far and now he's moving from the worst team in the American League to one of the best.
Soria might not close right away -- or at all, if Joe Nathan turns things around -- but he's probably going to make one of the Tigers' biggest weaknesses a strength. Or at least less of a weakness.
For the first time in his career, Royals fans will have to actively root against Soria. When he was with the Rangers, some might have lost interest. He was hidden from sight for a while before resurfacing there, and he was far enough away in Texas that it didn't sting so bad when he started pitching again. Most Royals fans were probably rooting for him.
The Tigers gave up a few decent guys to get Soria. Corey Knebel might turn into a solid lefty reliever in the majors, and Jake Thompson -- the Tigers' second round pick in 2012 -- has been promising through the low minors, but he's only pitched 11 innings above A ball, so who knows. Maybe the Tigers will get battered by the punditry for this deal in a few years, but right now, it looks like a great deal for a team that needed a lockdown reliever.
It's not like the Royals made an obvious mistake in how they handled Soria's second Tommy John surgery. That has been something of a death sentence for pitchers in the recent past, but he beat the odds. And now he's going to severely injure his former teams' odds of reaching the postseason.
There's not really anything else to say but: This sucks.