Detroit Tigers: Joakim Soria Strikes Out All Four Batters He Faces in Win


May 7, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joakim Soria (38) and catcher Alex Avila (13) celebrate their win at U.S Cellular Field. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-1. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday I noted that, despite Joakim Soria‘s success in recording outs (and ultimately saves), he wasn’t striking out many batters and had seen his swinging strike rate drop by more than 50% compared to his career rate. But neither swinging strikes nor strikeouts were an issue for Soria on Thursday as he entered the game for the Detroit Tigers with two outs in the eighth inning to try to nail down a four-out save against the Chicago White Sox.

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Soria was tasked with retiring Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Adam LaRoche, and Alexei Ramirez — Chicago’s 3-4-5-6 hitters — and retire them he did. With a runner on first base and two outs in the eighth, Soria came on and fanned Abreu in relief of starter Kyle Lobstein. He trotted back out for the ninth a proceeded to strike out the side — all on swinging strikes — to end the game and secure a 4-1 for the Detroit Tigers

Here’s a look at his final pitch, a 71-mph curveball that had Ramirez completely fooled:

His final line for the day: four batters faced, four strikeouts (all swinging), on 16 total pitches (14 of them strikes). It was about as efficient as a pitcher can be; a stark contrast to Joba Chamberlain‘s eighth inning on Wednesday night.

This one dominant outing raised Soria’s strikeout rate from 16.3% — which ranked 106 out of the 133 MLB relievers with at least 10 innings pitched entering Thursday — to 23.4%, which is two full percentage points higher than the league average strikeout rate for relievers (21.3%).

It’s still interesting that Soria’s overall strikeout rate is down since joining the Tigers last summer, but the trend doesn’t look quite so trendy anymore. It’s another important reminder that sometimes random data clump in ways that appear non-random.

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