If someone asked me to rank all of the closers in Major League Baseball in terms of talent and effectiveness, the top of my list would probably look something like this:
Going into this postseason, it seemed like the only area in which the Twins could challenge the Yankees was at closer, while the Red Sox had a major advantage over the Angels in the bullpen due to Papelbon. As it turned out, Papelbon turned in the worst outing of his career at the most inopportune time, while Nathan blew one game and put a second far out of reach. These outcomes just made me appreciate Mariano even more.
Yes, Mariano has blown some postseason games, but that is bound to happen to a pitcher put into that situation so frequently. For some perspective, note that Papelbon’s playoff ERA is now worse than Mariano’s on the strength of one poor outing (1.00 to .74). Mo has never had a postseason performance like that one, in all his years pitching out of the Yankees’ bullpen. Nathan has been every bit as good as Mo statistically over the last 5 years. However, he now moves into the ever growing cadre of great regular season closers who could not get it done when October rolled around. Mo has managed to dominate in the playoffs for 14 years, and has never looked as rattled as Nathan did Friday night. So here is to Mariano Rivera. Hopefully he keeps this up for a long time.
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