Entering the 2011 season, the New York Yankees presented a top-notch bullpen expected to possess dominance, consistency and strength against their opponents.
With misfortunes such as Phil Hughes’s dead arm and Pedro Feliciano’s capsule tear in his left shoulder, which may possibly put an end to the reliever’s season, the Yankees are unfortunately dealing with another pitching problem: Soriano’s tendency to allow runs and lose games.
During the offseason, the New York Yankees signed the remarkable Tampa Bay Rays closer with good reason. Soriano ended the 2010 season with a 1.73 ERA, the second best of his 10-season career. In 62.1 innings, Soriano allowed only 14 runs, four home runs and led the MLB with 45 saved games.
Yes, $35 million is extremely overpriced for a setup man. However, with the Yankees concern of finding a closer on par with Rivera before his retirement, Soriano was expected to be the perfect candidate.
With a 6.57 ERA for the 2011 season so far, Soriano has yet to display his full potential and prove that the Yankees were just in offering $35 million for him.
In 12.1 innings pitched, Soriano allowed 13 hits, nine runs and one home run, proving to be more of a disturbance to the team than an aid.
On April 25, Soriano gave up two hits and one run in the top of the ninth inning, allowing Brent Lillibridge of the Chicago White Sox to score. Soriano’s inconsistency continued the next night against the White Sox, as he gave up a two-run home run off the bat of Paul Konerko, allowing a 3-2 lead in the eight and causing the White Sox to win for a second night in a row.
Soriano’s poor performance this season is causing fans to wonder, were the Yankees wrong in signing him?
Not at all.
Soriano has only pitched in 13 games this season. Sure, his performance in most of them has been anything but spectacular, but it is still just the beginning.
"Because to me the fans in the ninth when I was the closer last year, everybody was loud and I've seen in the eighth it's a little different," Soriano told reporters of the New York Post. "I know there's a lot of people here, but it's a lot different to me."
Soriano is not yet used to his new environment and pitching position, causing him to pitch poorly. He is also completely different from his teammates; Soriano is less outspoken, shy when it comes to the media and is not used to the New York hype.
Just because he may not be able to adapt as quickly as other players in regards to pitching in New York and in his setup man position, does not mean he should be written off as a pitcher just yet.
We have witnessed time and time again the determination and strength Soriano has possessed on the mound. Just because he is in a slump right now, this does not mean the Yankees were wrong in their decision to sign him.
If Soriano continues to pitch poorly throughout this season, then New York clearly isn't the place for him.
Until then, Soriano has an opportunity to pitch like the dominant pitcher we know him to be.