How many leads/wins must Soriano give up? The guy still has stellar stuff. He's still throwing in the mid to upper 90's, but he keeps leaving pitches out and over the plate that are absolutely killing him and the team. He was dominant back in May, but ever since then he's been hittable and Kolbable.
August: 7.36 (before tonight)
The frustrating thing is that he's still striking people out, and he still has his stuff together, he's just leaving it up and it is hittable - and getting hit. Is it fatigue? Well, it's been going on since June in some fashion, so it's probably not fatigue, though that could be part of it. I think it's a lack of concentration. Perhaps it's a lack of being "the closer" - the guy who is gets the final out. But Soriano pitched well for 10 or so outings after Wickman returned to the closers role back in May. But there is no doubt that Soriano has been at his best this year when he's been "the man" at the end of games.
In July he blew three saves and lost two other games in which he entered into a tie game. Tonight's game was his first loss this month, but he has given up multiple runs in key situations repeatedly over the last several weeks.
To hit on it again, his stuff is still there. He can still throw it by people, it seems, at times. But other times he serves it right up for batters to square off and jack it out of the park. He has given up (and the stat pages have not caught up tonight) 10 homeruns - as many as Scott Linebrink (another good non-trade in retrospect). That's one homerun off the lead for relievers in the National League. This is a guy who we got to be virtually unhittable and he has been anything but unhittable.
This is one of those instances where the team, the GM does what it is supposed to do, but the player does not perform as expected. My fear is that this is another "Kenny Lofton situation." That for whatever reason the guy who has performed excellently in the past seems to wither and under-perform for the Braves. It's frustrating... damn frustrating.
I have lost all confidence in Soriano to get outs and keep the game close in any situation. Furthermore, Dotel seems to be going down the same road. Can we call it Devine-itis? We need to change the players in the late innings for the Braves bullpen. The go-to guy in the eighth inning to keep the game close should be Peter Moylan - he has demonstrated the ability to keep the ball in the park and keep inherited runners from scoring.
Damn frustrating loss to say the least. Gosh. And how worthless is Andruw Jones in key situations. I would have preferred a strikeout and to see Yunel Escobar get an at-bat in the ninth - how pitiful is that, Andruw!