Soria SwappedThursday, July 24, 2014
Another domino fell in the active and fruitful relief pitcher trade market on Wednesday night, with Rangers closer Joakim Soria heading to the Tigers for right-handed pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel.
The Padres got a nice haul from the Angels last week for Huston Street and Soria didn’t come cheap either. Thompson was a second-round pick in 2012 out of a high school in Heath, Texas and boasts a 2.96 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 203/69 K/BB ratio in 200 2/3 career innings between rookie ball and Double-A Erie. He doesn’t turn 21 years old until January. Knebel was a competitive-balance-round pick (39th overall) in 2013 out of the University of Texas at Austin and made his major league debut in Detroit earlier this season. The 22-year-old owns a dominant 1.26 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 84/27 K/BB ratio in 64 1/3 career minor league innings.
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Now let’s get to the fantasy implications …
1. Soria will be in a setup role ... initially
The Tigers announced soon after finalizing the three-player trade that veteran Joe Nathan will remain the club’s closer. But that doesn’t seem likely to last long. Nathan has posted a rough 5.89 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 36 2/3 innings this season at the age of 39 and he’s blown five saves in 25 opportunities. The signs of decline have been there all year. Soria, 30, had a 2.70 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 42/4 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings for Texas. By the pitching metric FIP (fielding independent pitching), Soria has been the best reliever in the majors in 2014.
2. Rangers turn back to familiar ninth-inning man
There’s been no official announcement from Texas management, but Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote late Wednesday night that 26-year-old right-hander Neftali Feliz will “in the short term” have “a chance to once again establish himself as an elite closer.” If it doesn’t work out, the last-place (40-61) Rangers can try a few different options -- Shawn Tolleson being one. Feliz underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in 2012 and is struggling to regain the filthy raw stuff that made him such a lauded pitching prospect in his youth, but he has registered a promising 2.61 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in 10 1/3 innings of relief since returning to Texas’ active roster on July 4. He’s worth a try in all standard fantasy leagues, even as the Rangers limp to the finish line in 2014.