Everyone has an opinion about the save statistic. And while I fully understand the arguments, one thing I also understand: The save statistic is not important unless you can’t buy one. Just ask the Red Sox who have had trouble in that department and any other team that has trouble finishing games. If you do not like the save stat, how about the WPA statistic? Soriano is sitting with an impressive WPA of 1.07. His ERA (also a troublesome stat for relief pitchers) sits at 1.80. Fangraphs has his FIP at 2.48, which is also impressive.
His save last night was particularly impressive. Ivan Nova was attempting to get his first complete game after pitching one of the best games of his career. He did not make it. Instead he gave up back to back triples and could not record an out. Enter Rafael Soriano and that runner never moved off of third base. Yeah, that last drive to the warning track by Hideki Matsui was a little scary. But that followed two relatively easy outs to get the game to that point.
Let’s all be honest here. The first couple of save opportunities after Robertson went down were stomach turning. We expected the worst. We expected failure. It did not happen. It has not happened once. And that has been huge for the Yankees. Is it as huge that the Yankee starters have been going deep into the game to prevent a depleted bullpen from getting over-exposed? No. But their efforts have not been wasted by blowing it in the ninth inning either.
And let’s be honest about another thing. We all gnashed our teeth when the Yankee upper-brass went over Brian Cashman’s head to sign Soriano. Cashman was quick to point out that it was not his idea. But are not the Yankees glad now that the signing occurred? Otherwise, consider having to depend on Cory Wade‘s smoke and mirrors act to close games or heaven forbid, Boone Logan. Now many will argue that just about any old pitcher can save games when a team has a two or three game lead heading into the ninth inning. And yes, historically, the team in that situation will win the game 91 percent of the time. But that nine percent can be painful. Soriano has not given any of that pain to this point.
There will be times when he fails. Heck, even Mo did that once in a while. But Soriano has become a comfort at the end of the game. I believe he should stay right where he is when David Robertson gets back. But then again, what do I know? I think Mark Montgomery could help this team right now instead of pitching in the low minors. Robertson is a known quantity at what he has been doing for the past year. Why not keep him there?
Rafael Soriano has been a full-time closer for three seasons. His success rates in those seasons are 84 percent, 94 percent and now 100 percent. I will take my chances on that to go along with his 98 career saves. I am not sure I like the shirt untucking thing after a save. But I appreciate what that act means for the Yankees.