One night after Joakim Soria played a central role in a bullpen meltdown, Royals manager Ned Yost said the reliever was pitching through soreness in his lower back.
Soria will undergo an MRI on Thursday in Kansas City. In a pregame interview on Wednesday morning, Yost it was “probably a possibility” that Soria could go on the 10-day disabled list. The Royals are off Thursday and open a three-game series against Cleveland on Friday.
“It really got sore last night and this morning,” Yost said. “This is something he’s been pitching through for, like I said, two weeks.”
Soria allowed four hits and was charged with four runs on Tuesday night in a 10-8 loss to the Oakland A’s. He combined with reliever Mike Minor to surrender six runs in a decisive eighth inning. The Royals had hit three homers and scored five runs in the top of the inning, taking an 8-4 lead.
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In the moments after the loss, Yost said Soria lacked his “good change-up,” which prevented him from finishing off hitters. He faced five hitters and allowed four hits, all on change-ups. The average exit velocity off the bat was close to 99 mph.
In seeking to explain why Soria was pitching through the issue, Yost cited his recent performance in August.
“Three out of his last four outings have been 1-2-3 outings,” Yost said. “But last night, it really affected him trying to execute his change-up.”
Yost said the issue affected Soria’s lower lat muscle. It could also be a possible intercostal strain. An MRI will likely determine the extent of the damage.
Soria entered Tuesday with a 2.55 ERA, 16 strikeouts and three walks in 17 2/3 innings since July 1. In the same span, Minor had posted a 4.34 ERA with 22 strikeouts and four walks in 18 2/3 innings, while left-hander Scott Alexander had logged a 3.15 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 innings. Peter Moylan has recorded a 2.25 ERA since July 1, though he has allowed homers in two of his last three appearances. The Royals’ bullpen has a 6.94 ERA in August, the second worst in baseball behind the San Diego Padres.
In his other appearance in August — other than the clean innings — Soria allowed a hit and issued two walks in an 8-6 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis last Thursday. He is 4-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 50 innings across 53 appearances. He has struck out 59 hitters while walking just 16. His strikeout to walk rate (3.69) is its best since 2010. He has also recorded seven blown saves.
“We’ll get home and give him an MRI and figure out the extent of it,” Yost said. “And then go from there.”