Joakim Soria pulled from closer’s role after taking fifth blown save

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Joakim Soria just isn’t fooling anyone.

On Monday, he gave up a two-run homer to Torii Hunter with one out in the ninth inning, giving him three straight blown saves.  He went on to allow one more run before escaping the ninth in what turned out to be a 10-8 loss to the Angels.

Soria has blown five saves at all.  It’s been obvious all year that his stuff was off, yet he still had a 3.86 ERA before his recent streak.  It’s only now that he’s gotten pummeled: in his last four appearances, he’s given up eight runs and three homers, taking his ERA up to 6.55.

The homer today came on a 2-0 fastball that he grooved right down the middle.  He’s currently averaging 90.4 mph with his heater, down from 91.9 mph last year.  That alone isn’t the root of his problems, though.  Soria has lost his curveball, and the little slider he’s turned to as its replacement just isn’t a quality offering.

With the latest blown save, the Royals had no choice but to make a move in the closer’s role, and manager Ned Yost said after Monday’s game that Soria would be pulled for now and that rookie Aaron Crow would get save chances.  The hope is that it’s a temporary change, but given that Soria has gone two months without finding his previous form, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a quick fix.