Royals sticking with struggling closer Joakim Soria

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I wrote yesterday about how Joakim Soria hasn’t pitched like his usual dominant self this season with a 5.18 ERA, similarly ugly strikeout and walk numbers, and decreased velocity.

While his performance so far should definitely have the Royals worried, it’s no surprise that manager Ned Yost made it very clear Soria is in no danger of losing closing duties, telling Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:

There’s nothing different with Soria and there’s not going to be anything different with Soria. He’s not that far off from being right. His problem is he was just so automatic before, when he stumbles a little bit, people go crazy. That’s the nature of being a closer.

That’s certainly true about the nature of closers, but it’s tough to agree that “there’s nothing different with Soria” when, even ignoring the bloated ERA, his strikeouts are down 40 percent, his walks are up 85 percent, and he’s missing 1.5 miles per hour on his fastball.

There’s no need to overreact and change Soria’s role yet, but there’s more reason to worry about Soria than the usual hysteria whenever a great closer blows a save or two.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.