Assessing the players: Rafael Soriano

By Unknown author

The bullpen assessment continues as I take a look at the All-Star closer Rafael Soriano. Where do I begin, Soriano was simply incredible this season as the Rays closer. After failed years with Percival, the Rays went out and traded for Soriano from Atlanta. I was a bit skeptical of the signing (National league player coming to the American League) and also his history. Soriano had always been a good pitcher and good reliever, but had never put together a complete, dominating season until this year. Soriano came into the closer position and never looked back. Let’s take a closer look at the All-Star’s record setting year.

Soriano finished the season with a record of 3-2 and 45 saves. Soriano finished the year with an ERA of 1.73, struck out 57, and walked 14. He pitched in 62.1 innings, giving up 36 hits, 4 home runs while keeping opponents batting averages down to a low .163. The hard throwing closer was named to the All-Star as well.

Soriano throws hard, it is as simple as that. Coming into the ninth inning, Soriano’s fastball tops out at about 96 MPH and has late movement. He also can throw a nasty breaking ball as well, but usually lives by the moving fastball. He can simply dominate a ninth inning, something the Rays have not had in their bullpen for years (he threw a 9-pitch, all strikes, inning to close a game). Soriano is very confident and never shows emotion on the mound, except when he pounds his glove to celebrate a save.

Soriano is a free agent and with mega agent Scott Boras, there is little chance the Rays sign the 30 year closer because he is simply asking for too much money. The Rays will struggle without him and wherever Soriano lands, he will dominate the 9th inning as he did for the Rays in 2010. Final grade: A