The Yankees have made an adjustment to their bullpen and the change is exceptional.
Pitcher Rafael Soriano has been welcomed to the team as Mariano Rivera’s setup man. The 31-year-old accepted a three year, $35 million contract with the bombers and will contribute to a dominating bullpen, saving games and ending them quicker.
As a possible and likely successor to Mariano’s closer position, the Yankees seem to be in good shape for the 2011 season. But do these two talented closers remind you of a previous unstoppable duo?
In the beginning of Rivera’s career, before he became the best closer in baseball, he was the setup man to John Wetteland. These two worked together and brought the Yankees to a 1996 World Series win.
Their work together was remarkable, but can Soriano and Rivera become a better and more dominant closing duo?
Here are 10 reasons why Rivera and Soriano are the better duo.
Prior to being a part of the Yankees, Wetteland did not have the experience of playing on an AL East team. Playing in the National League for six years, Wetteland had never faced the feat of going against powerful teams such as the Yankees for the No. 1 spot in the division.
Soriano, on the other hand, has had the experience and his result on AL East teams has been excellent.
From 2002 to 2006, Soriano pitched for the Seattle Mariners, where he posted his record breaking 1.53 ERA in 2003. After playing in Atlanta for three years, Soriano returned to the AL East in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he brought his team to an AL East division win.
Along with Rivera, Soriano has had a large amount of experience in the AL East. Soriano's transformation onto the Yankees should bring him nothing but further success, resulting in Rivera and Soriano as the better duo.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2004, Soriano's ERA suffered and he posted an awful 13.50. Soriano later rebounded with a 2.45 ERA in 2005 and proved what a consistent and strong pitcher he can be.
Soriano has been presented with nail-bitting moments and big opportunities to be there for his team. Throughout those moments, he possessed his full potential and performed to his highest ability to ensure wins.
Soriano was the reason for Tampa Bay's division win in 2010. He recorded saves for four games in a row from July 3rd through the 6th. His success continued when he saved back to back games on July 24th, 25th, 27th and 28th.
Rafael Soriano has been an outstanding closer, he has saved games and has led his teams further in their divisions. He is no stranger when it comes to performing in big moments and being on the Yankees, there will be plenty of them.
He is a star pitcher and with our weak starting rotation, Soriano will be there for the Yankees, giving them the confidence they need to play a successful season.
Rivera is now 42 years old and although his stats suggest he is not aging, he unfortunately is. I hate to say it and just the thought of it is making me cringe, but Mariano will one day retire from the Yankees. When he does, who better than to have the previous AL East division's best closer Rafael Soriano take his place?
Many people were surprised when the closer accepted a three year deal with the Yankees as a setup man.
Soriano told reporters, "I know people will find this strange, but I'm very happy to be close to one of the greatest closers Mariano Rivera. Hopefully in the future I will, after being a setup man, be the closer, too." Soriano then added, "Mariano is one of the ones who actually did something for me to be signed by the Yankees. I'm going to learn a lot from him. He is one of the greatest, and the communication between he and I is going to be wonderful. We're going to do a lot of good for the team."
Soriano chose to take on the role as a setup man. It seems the amount of respect these two have for each other will result in a momentous season and continuing career for the both of them.
When Rivera was a setup man, he was just starting out as a pitcher and his potential to become a historical closer was unknown. However, Soriano has had experience and his future seems destined for greatness.
Rivera did not follow in the footsteps of John Wetteland, he made his own. Now it is time for Soriano to continue a legacy that Rivera has created.
When the 1996 season ended, Rivera and Wetteland's impact on the team brought the Yankees to a World Series win and a 70-3 win-loss record. As World Series MVP, Wetteland had faith that he would continue his career with the Yankees.
Unfortunately, the Yankees did not see it that way.
In their outstanding performance together, it was not Wetteland's pitching the Yankees were amazed by, it was Rivera's. Rivera became the team's new closer and Wetteland was sent packing.
Despite all Wetteland did for the team that year, they put all of their faith into Rivera's hands. The Yankees clearly did not have the same respect for Wetteland as they for with Soriano now.
With the respect the Yankees have for Soriano and the respect he has for Mariano, these two will help the Yankees go far for many years to come.
Who has the best WHIP?
Soriano ended the 2010 season recording a 0.802 WHIP and an overall 1.000 WHIP in nine seasons.
Rivera ended his 2010 season with a 0.833 WHIP and an overall 1.003 WHIP in 16 seasons. As a setup man in 1996, he had a 0.994 WHIP.
In 1996, Wetteland posted a 1.178 WHIP, with an overall 1.135 WHIP in twelve seasons.
With Soriano and Rivera dominating Wetteland in WHIP, this duo is the better pair.
A crucial job for a closer is to save games, so which duo will bring the Yankees to more wins?
In 1996, Mariano Rivera recorded a total of five saved games as a setup man and 559 saved games in 16 seasons. Closer John Wetteland saved a record of 43 games and 330 games in 12 seasons.
Rafael Soriano ended his 2010 season with an outstanding 45 saves and 88 saves in nine seasons. Rivera ended his 2010 season with 33 saved games.
Although Wetteland and Rivera had a great year, the stats speak for themselves and when it comes to saving games, Rivera and Soriano will be the better duo.
In 1996, the Yankees did not have to worry about being defeated by the Atlanta Braves. With David Cone on the mound and Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams scoring runs, Rivera and Wetteland had help winning the World Series.
Unfortunately for the 2011 Yankees, that is not the case.
Right now, the Yankees' starting rotation is filled with the consistent CC Sabathia, the questionable Phil Hughes, the inconsistent A.J Burnett and most likely Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre.
Having only one starter that the Yankees can depend on does not equal World Series success.
The last time we saw the batters in the ALCS against the Rangers, it was as if they had all forgot how to hit. With an embarrassing ALCS loss and fear that the 2010 postseason would repeat itself in 2011, losing both Cliff Lee and most likely Andy Pettitte has left Yankee fans less than confident for the upcoming season. But with Soriano as a setup man for Rivera, their confidence can be boosted.
Currently in dire need, the Yankees need a duo like Wetteland and Rivera and now they will receive an even better pair. Having Soriano and Rivera in the bullpen will give the Yankees the kick they need to ensure game wins and hopefully a World Series title.
The 2010 season was a great season for both Rivera and Soriano. Rivera posted a 1.80 ERA and allowed only 14 runs. Soriano did some damage himself. The closer ended the season with a 1.73 ERA and allowed only 14 runs as well.
As for other accomplishments in the 2010 season, Rivera appeared in his 11th All-Star game, was Clutch Performer of the Month and held the record of lowest earned-run average in postseason history. Soriano also had the honor of appearing in the All-Star game, was given the DHL Delivery Man Award and led the AL East in saves.
These stats and accomplishments came from the two closers when they were apart, but imagine what they will cause when together? They will be absolutely unstoppable.
Comparing the 2010 season to 1996, the duo is in better shape than the earlier Rivera and Wetteland. Rivera and Soriano are statistically better and they can hopefully bring the Yankees to a World Series win, just as Rivera and Wetteland did in 1996.
There is no argument that Rivera is a better closer than Soriano, but what about the better setup man?
Rivera pitched well as a setup man for Wetteland, but Rivera was not born to help shorten games, he was born to end them.
With Mariano unable to pitch four games in a row like Wetteland had in 1996, their decision to give Mariano the closer position was a huge risk. With that risk, the Yankees earned a reward, having the best closer in history on their team.
Finally filling the long awaited void of having an actual setup man, Soriano will do just as Rivera did and become the setup man to a great closer.
Soriano has an overall 2.73 ERA in nine seasons. With his experience, he will be a marvelous and maybe an even better setup man than Rivera was. With Rivera as a closer, these two will not even compare to the 1996 duo.
In a battle between closers Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, Rivera will always be the winner, hands down.
Here are some comparisons to prove that Rivera is in fact the better closer.
1996 vs. 2010
In 2010, Rivera posted a 1.80 ERA, 33 saves and allowed 14 runs. In 1996, Wetteland recorded a 2.83 ERA, 43 saves and allowed 23 runs. At the age of 42, Rivera has a better season record than Wetteland at the age of 30.
In 16 seasons, Rivera has an overall 2.23 ERA, 559 saved games and has allowed 309 runs. In 12 seasons, Wetteland posted an overall 2.93 ERA, 330 saved games and allowed 287 runs. Despite more experience, Rivera is still the better closer.
Rivera appeared in 11 All-Star games, was World Series Champion five times, World Series MVP once, won the Rolaids Relief Man Award five times (along with other prestigious awards) and will be in the Yankees Hall of Fame. Wetteland appeared in the All-Star game three times, was World Series Champion once, MVP once, won the Rolaids Relief Man Award once and is in the Texas Rangers' Hall of Fame.
I rest my case. Rivera is clearly the better closer.
With Rivera as the team's closer and Soriano as the setup man, Rivera and Soriano will be a better duo than Wetteland and Rivera were.