Originally posted on Bronx Pinstripes  |  Last updated 8/26/12

Brian Cashman didn’t want him.  The fans didn’t understand the signing but the Yankee’s ownership saw something in Rafael Soriano that everyone else did not.  Soriano has accomplished what has for over a decade been unthinkable, he’s stepped into the shoes of future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera.

Let me be clear.  Rivera is the best closer there is, has been and ever will be.  However,  when Rivera went down back on May 4th, the Yankees were forced to look for Rivera’s replacement sooner than they had planned.  It should be noted that David Robertson had the first crack at being the closer but got hurt which is when the 9th inning was handed to Soriano.

Rafael Soriano is on track to have one of the best statistical seasons of his 10 year career.  In 50.1 innings, Soriano has 32 saves, which is tied for 3rd in the American League and 4th in the whole major leagues.  Soriano’s ERA currently sits at 1.61 and, if it stays there, it would be the lowest he’s had in his career.

This isn’t the first time Soriano had been entrusted with final three outs of the ball game.  Back in 2010 when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, Soriano had a career best 45 saves while sporting a 1.73 ERA.  This was a major reason why the Yankees opened up their checkbook to sign him when he became a free agent that winter.  One explanation for Soriano’s success is his strike out per 9 inning ratio which is  currently at 9.12, the highest it’s been since 2009 when he was with the Atlanta Braves.

When Mariano Rivera went down it could have be a catastrophe for the Yankees but, with the silent emergence of Rafael Soriano, the loss of Rivera hasn’t even been an afterthought for most of the baseball world.  Rivera intends to come back in 2013 and without question will resume his Hall of Fame career as the undisputed Yankee closer.  However, enough cannot be said about the job Rafael Soriano has done in Rivera’s absence.

Soriano has given the Yankee’s and their fans the same assurance that the game is over in the 9th that any closer in baseball can give.  That is all you can ask of a closer, even the one replacing a legend.

 

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