Joakim Soria: The Oakland Athletics backup plan

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 3: Joakim Soria #48 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 3, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Angels 7-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 3: Joakim Soria #48 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 3, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Angels 7-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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The Oakland Athletics are hitching their wagon to Liam Hendriks as their closer. If he falters, Joakim Soria is their only real backup plan.

Last season, Liam Hendriks came out of nowhere to emerge as the Oakland Athletics closer. Blake Treinen, who had held the role since his acquisition from Washington, had faltered, resulting in an opening. Hendriks, who had until then been a journeyman middle reliever, seized the opportunity, putting together an All Star season en route to taking over the role moving forward.

With Treinen having departed and signing with the Dodgers, the A’s have all of their eggs in Hendriks’ basket. He is the closer for 2020, a season that Oakland is hoping will result in their getting over the postseason hump. The roster is stronger, the rotation should be much better, and the bullpen has plenty of depth.

But this all hinges on Hendriks. While it appears that he should be able to replicate his performance from 2019 based on changes in his arsenal, that is not a given. Should he falter, the A’s have only one real option to replace him – Joakim Soria.

Related Story. Hendriks looking to prove 2019 was not a fluke. light

Soria has had a great deal of success in the past as a closer. Over his 12 years in the majors, he has notched 221 saves, although the majority of those came during his time with the Royals. However, he has spent time in the closer role recently as well, beginning 2018 as a co-closer on the White Sox prior to being sent to the Brewers.

Soria himself is not exactly a given. He did struggle in his first season in Oakland, posting a 4.30 ERA despite an excellent 1.029 WHiP, striking out 79 batters against 20 walks in his 69 innings. However, his ERA was not indicative of how well he actually pitched, as Soria was victimized by a good deal of bad luck.

He also carries the Proven Closer mantle. While that is not to be his role at the start of the season, having a pitcher like Soria, who has proven that he can handle the ninth inning, as a part of the relief corps is valuable. Even if he does not take on the role himself, his experience could be invaluable for Hendriks, who is still learning what it takes to handle the ninth inning full time.

Next. Soria not as bad as he seemed. dark

If Liam Hendriks falters, the Oakland Athletics have a backup plan in Joakim Soria. The question will be what happens if Soria struggles as well.

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