A lot was made last year of Rafael Soriano being upset that he was no longer a closer, but after he became the de facto Yankees closer after injuries to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson, he said it doesn’t matter what inning he pitches as long as the situation is tense.
“When it’s close,” Soriano told Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “No matter if it’s the sixth, seventh, ninth — I feel better when the game is tied, or close, losing by one run, winning by one run. … That’s what I like. That makes me feel more better, when I face the 3, 4, 5 hitters. Whatever happens, come back next day, try to do it again.”
Soriano became a closer with the Atlanta Braves in 2009 and then joined the Rays as their closer in 2010. In those two seasons he had thrown 138 innings with a 2.41 ERA, a 10.4 K/9, and a 2.7 BB/9. In more than one season with the Yankees as the setup-man, he has pitched 53.1 innings with a 3.71 ERA, an 8.3 K/9, and a 4.4 BB/9.
Both are sample sizes that are too small to draw real conclusions from and it is insane to me that a pitcher making over $10 million a season would have a hard time with motivation, but it is possible. Maybe that’s what he needs to pitch successfully. We’ll see if he improves over the next couple of weeks, but if he does it’ll make for an interesting situation once David Robertson returns.