Yost plans to mix and match setup men

Soria, Herrera and Hochevar will all see time in eighth inning

Yost plans to mix and match setup men

HOUSTON -- Barely over a week into the regular season, and already Royals Nation is alarmed that manager Ned Yost is setting up his bullpen with Kelvin Herrera primarily as the seventh-inning guy and Joakim Soria as the eighth-inning guy.

Soria had a terrific Spring Training, posting a 1.80 ERA. But the concern stems from his one shaky outing on Opening Night, when he gave up three runs.

But, as Yost has pointed out often, Soria gave up three broken-bat hits in that game and didn't pitch nearly as poorly as the stats suggested.

Soria came in a pressure situation on Tuesday night with the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. He pitched a scoreless eighth but allowed two baserunners.

Yost said he has no concerns about Soria, but he conceded that he would mix and match his setup men -- Luke Hochevar, Herrera and Soria -- as he tries to get the ball to closer Wade Davis.

"[Soria] had one [bad] outing, his first outing, and that was it," Yost said. "We talked about that [switching Herrera and Soria] last night a little bit before we did it. But Jack saved 39 straight games for me before. And his stuff is every bit as good, and his command is every bit as good as it was then."

How will Yost mix up his setup men down the line?

"Just depends on who has been used before and who's available," Yost said. "They could all be closers.

"We will mix them. There will be times when we flip it around. They are interchangeable."

Yost isn't going to pay much attention to the critics.

"They'll be concerned about anyone who has a bad outing," Yost said.

One thing Yost would like to see improve: His starters are averaging just over five innings per outing, which is taxing the bullpen.

"We just can't keep wearing [the bullpen] out," Yost said.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.