OAKLAND -- To say that this season hasn't gone as Joakim Soria had hoped would be an understatement.
The A's had high expectations when they signed the veteran reliever to a two-year, $15 million contract in the offseason. After all, Soria recorded a 3.12 ERA in 66 games last season between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers in 2018, striking out 75 batters in 60 2/3 innings.
This year has been a completely different story. Soria, 35, is just 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA, the worst of his 12-year career. Recently, however, Soria has shown glimpses of his All-Star days.
After missing nine games earlier this month with inflammation in his elbow, Soria has looked like a completely different pitcher. In two appearances since returning, the right-hander has tossed two perfect innings with four strikeouts.
"I felt good," Soria told NBC Sports California on Friday after the A's 8-0 win over the Texas Rangers at the Coliseum. "Everything was working right and hopefully it continues that way."
Soria's velocity was up as well Friday, even hitting 95 mph with his four-seam fastball. He was dominant on back-to-back nights.
"I think it was getting healthy," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "His workload was extreme. You know, this is not a 21-year-old. He's (had two) Tommy John (surgeries). We used him a lot. I think the break did help him. Obviously, we don't want to see anyone get a little nicked up like he was, but I do think the break helped him and it looks like all of his pitches are fired up again."
If Soria could find his old form, it would provide an incredible boost for the A's bullpen down the stretch and into the postseason. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a pitcher has struggled during the regular season only to catch fire during the playoffs -- think Barry Zito with the Giants in 2012.
"It's always good to get back healthy and throw good outings," Soria said. "It's really good for your mental point of view."
Soria now has has struck out six in 4 2/3 scoreless innings in September, allowing just one hit and one walk. Sure, that's a small sample size, but it's still a promising development for the A's ahead of their playoff push.