Opinion

Is Dave Eiland already working his magic on Joakim Soria?

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and pitching coach Dave Eiland visited with relief pitcher Joakim Soria in the first game of the year.
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and pitching coach Dave Eiland visited with relief pitcher Joakim Soria in the first game of the year. jsleezer@kcstar.com

After a poor start to the season, Joakim Soria vowed to make a mechanical change after Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland believed he spotted a flaw on video.

This from Wednesday’s story from Rustin Dodd:

The problem, Soria said, stemmed from a mechanical issue with his front side. As he’s finished his delivery during the season’s opening weeks, his left side has drifted open too quickly, leaving his release point off.

“My front arm is pulling side to side, instead of up and down,” Soria said. “It’s not a big deal. But it’s obviously going to help me.”

Though Wednesday’s scoreless outing for Soria wasn’t perfect — he coaxed two lineouts and hit a batter — one pitch did appear to improve with help from the tweak Eiland suggested.

Soria wasn’t getting as much bite lately on his slider. That changed Wednesday, as PitchFX data showed about 6 inches more movement both vertically and horizontally from the pitch.

So what does that look like? Here’s a video that shows a Soria slider to Justin Upton on Tuesday (before the mechanical adjustment) synched up to one against J.D. Martinez on Wednesday (after the adjustment).

You can see the additional movement on the second pitch, as it loops higher than the other and has sharper late break toward the right-handed batter’s box. Not only that, the second slider was about four miles per hour slower than the Tuesday one, which could potentially give Soria more separation between his low-90s fastball and the off-speed pitch.

Soria is still mostly a fastball guy — 70 percent of his pitches this year have been heaters — but his second-most frequent pitch has been the slider, and getting some extra action on it would seem to be useful.

So what caused the change? It appears clear from this screenshot.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Notice Soria’s left arm. Just as he described (and Eiland diagnosed), that front arm appears to be flying open in the first picture, with Soria keeping that arm tucked much more tightly Wednesday.

The adjustment appeared to have helped one of Soria’s secondary pitches Wednesday, a small positive for a pitcher trying to work his way back into the eighth-inning role.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

  Comments