The #Tigers announced last night the club has acquired RHP Joakim Soria from the Rangers in exchange for RHPs Corey Knebel & Jake Thompson.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 24, 2014
The Tigers Fallout:
Given the struggles of Joe Nathan, it makes sense that the Tigers wanted to bring in either a replacement or a reinforcement in case he can’t figure it out. In Soria, they get just that. He has been one of the elite closers in the game this season, with a 2.70 ERA and 0.87 WHIP, showing strikeouts (11.34 K/9) and control (1.08 BB/9).
While it’s easy to point to an unsustainable BB/9, he also has been plagued by poor luck (60.0% strand rate). As for the control, while it may not be THIS good he does own a career 2.54 BB/9 and certainly has the stuff to thrive.
However, he initially is going to be doing that in a setup role. According to Jason Beck of mlb.com (click here for the article):
“Nathan is our closer,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an email to MLB.com on Wednesday evening
If things stay that way or not remains to be seen, and both Nathan and Soria should continue to be owned in all formats until the situation plays itself out. However, those who have stashed Joba Chamberlain in hopes of stealing a few saves can safely move on.
The Rangers Fallout:
The first question is obviously going to be who steps into the void left behind at closer. The obvious candidate is going to be Neftali Feliz, even though he has struggled generating strikeouts since returning to the Majors (3.48 K/9 this season). However a 10.7% SwStr% tells a different story and Feliz has already been dubbed the closer, given this quote courtesy of T.R. Sullivan of mlb.com (click here for the article):
“We’ll give him a shot, he is the only one with experience,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “It will show if he can or he can’t.”
As for the prospects they received, the Tigers clearly paid a hefty price to bolster their bullpen. Baseball America ranked Thompson as the team’s fifth best prospect entering the season saying:
“Thompson throws three average or better pitches, operating off a low-90s fastball that can touch 95 mph. He delivers the ball with a steep downhill plane, mixing a harder four-seamer with a livelier two-seamer that has solid sink and tail. His best offspeed pitch is his low-80s slider, which has tight bite when it’s on, though it can flatten out on him. It’s a potential plus pitch that he already commands well.”
The 20-year old was recently promoted to Double-A and overall owns a 3.06 ERA, 86 K and 29 BB over 94.0 IP. The potential is there, though he could still be a year or two away.
Knebel was ranked seventh by Baseball America, after being a supplemental first round selection a year ago. They said that “Given his stuff and ability to throw strikes, Knebel could move quickly through the system as a potential closer”.
He’s already made his Major League debut with 11 K and 3 BB over 8.2 IP. He is a name to keep in mind, as he could potentially step into the closer’s role should Feliz stumble.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Baseball America
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