Joakim Soria needs season-ending Tommy John surgery

1 Comment

Joakim Soria got second and third opinions after being diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and they all agreed, so the 27-year-old Royals closer will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery on April 3.

Typically recovery timetables are 12-18 months, so Soria will miss the entire season and could be limited in early 2013 as well.

Soria is owed $6 million this season and the Royals have an $8 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2013 and an $8.75 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2014. Much like Adam Wainwright with the Cardinals last year, the Royals may have to make a decision on Soria’s future before having a clear sense of his recovery.

Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland are the options to replace Soria as closer, but manager Ned Yost hasn’t made a decision yet. Or at least hasn’t announced his decision publicly yet. And with one of those two moving from a setup role to ninth-inning duties the Royals have canceled plans to shift Aaron Crow from the bullpen to the rotation.

Soria had a helluva run for the Royals, going from unknown to stud closer in 2007 and saving 160 games with a 2.40 ERA and 341 strikeouts in 315 innings over five seasons. During that time the only pitcher with more saves and a lower ERA than Soria was Mariano Rivera.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.