If Rafael Soriano continues to dominate the Major League Baseball Delivery Man Award this way, some might have to consider renaming it after him.
That might be a stretch, but Soriano earned the honors again on Thursday for August and for a third time this season. The Dominican hurler is one of only three pitchers to win the award three times in his career joining Trevor Hoffman (four) and Joe Nathan (three).
Soriano first blazed new ground this season becoming the first player to win the award multiple times in a season since its inception in 2005. Soriano, 30, also took home the award in May and July.
He has continued his stellar work since then, recording a 0.84 ERA to go with 10 saves in August. Soriano, who successfully converted all of his attempts during the month, allowed only four hits over that span. Entering play on Thursday, Soriano led the Majors with 40 saves and needs three more to tie the franchise single-season save record set by Roberto Hernandez in 1999.
Soriano's success is nothing new to Tampa Bay fans by this point. But he opened eyes around the league last week, when he finished off the Angels with three straight strikeouts on nine pitches. It was only the 44th time the feat had been accomplished in Major League history.
"I just thought he came out with sharp location, sharp velocity," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It wasn't the 89-90 [mph], it was 92 where he wanted it to be, 93. And that's the thing about him. This guy as a closer, he pitches. He doesn't just try to rush a fastball by somebody. He pitches, he locates, he knows what he's doing. He just had exceptional command last night."
Soriano may not repeat that feat for the rest of his career, but his command and velocity have been notable all season. With a similar display in September, Soriano could be finishing off some much bigger games in the coming months.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.