As Joe Sheehan points out, Joakim Soria has pitched just twice since the July 9.
In the last game before the All-Star break, with the Royals losing 5-0 to the Red Sox, Soria pitched the eighth inning. And Tuesday night, he pitched the ninth inning of a game the Royals were losing to the Angels, 10-2.
That's it. In the Royals' last nine games, Soria has pitched in two games, both of them already lost when he entered. A few more salient facts:
The Royals have lost all nine of those games.
Of the seven losses in which Soria did not pitch, five included eighth-inning bullpen implosions.
Soria is the best reliever on the staff, by a whole lot.
I want you to think about that for a moment. Here you've got a team that has the worst run differential in the league, has now lost nine straight games and routinely gets hammered before that magical three-out save opportunity has a chance to rear its beautiful head.
Do you think, if you were managing that team, that you might get just a little bit creative? See if you could figure out a way to occasionally get your ace fireman into a close game?
If so, then I'm afraid you've just failed the Kansas City Managerial Quiz. You've failed, which means you are not eligible to join the ranks of an august club whose members include Tony Muser, Buddy Bell, Tony Pena, and the franchise's newest and bestest intellectual powerhouse, Trey Hillman.
You should wear that rejection like a badge of pride.
Update: As a commenter so helpfully points out, Soria finally did pitch in a close game, last night ... and immediately gave up a double that turned 6-6 into 8-6. So, maybe Trey Hillman really can learn from his (many) mistakes, though what happened last night probably wasn't what you would call positive reinforcement. And so it goes.
Another Update: As Rany notes, the problem isn't that Hillman runs his bullpen unconventionally. The problem is that he doesn't.