Thursday, October 25, 2012

Season Assessment & Off-Season Outlook: The Closers (Rafael Soriano & Mariano Rivera)

The New York Yankees took a hit when Mariano Rivera went down on the warning track in Kansas City early in the season. The batting practice injury proved to be severe enough to have the all-time saves leader miss the remainder of the season. The closing job was in the air between David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.

The last of Soriano in pinstripes?
After Robertson ended up on the disabled list briefly, it was up to the former Rays closer to get the job done for the rest of the year. Coming into the season, Soriano was looked as one of the most overpaid set-up men in baseball and not as reliable as his price tag may make him out to be.

Soriano channelled his inner Rivera and brought out the closer in him that got Cy Young votes in 2011.  The fire and intensity as he took the mound in the ninth inning with his own customized spanish walk-out song took some getting used to, but it worked.

Before you knew it, #Untuck caught on and started a Twitter wildfire post-Yankee victories...42 times. That was the number of saves that he put together post-Rivera trauma and he joined a list of just three other Yankees to surpass that 40 save mark.

Since he took over the job as the Yankees' closer, Soriano gave fans more than expected with his 2.26 ERA. Meanwhile, David Robertson finished the season with a 2.67 ERA and three blown saves, one was very shortly after Rivera went down.

Girardi clearly made the right decision to stick with Soriano in the long run.

Off-Season Outlook
The New York Post reported that Soriano will most likely opt out of his contract and test free agent waters. The team will officially be notified within three days of the World Series concluding. This should come as no surprise to anyone after the closer's 2012 campaign in which he showed that he can be the closer on another team.

The Yankees will make a qualifying offer to him, but chances are that his appearance in the 6-4 loss to the Tigers could have been his last outing in a Yankees uniform.
Back in 2013.

On the bright side, Mariano Rivera announced that he will be returning to the Yankees in 2013 after there was a period of sadness in the Yankee community as to whether they had seen the end of the greatest closer of all-time.

Brian Cashman has yet to have a conversation to the closer about his plans for 2013, but the two sides should easy come to an agreement. Rivera will be 43 next season, which means that a contract may not be for long and the team will cautiously look at the effects of the injury as his recovery process is completed and he is tested in his first few games back.

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