Mariano Rivera is amazing, but Joe Nathan is great too

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In order to guarantee that Mariano Rivera could make an appearance in his final All-Star game manager Jim Leyland used him in the eighth inning, which led to Joe Nathan closing out the win for the American League in the ninth.

That wasn’t quite ideal, although it didn’t seem to take away from the spectacular moment involving Rivera’s entrance and, of course, Nathan is a damn good pitcher too. In fact, Rivera and Nathan have been extremely similar in their long-term dominance.

Nathan took over as a closer after being traded from the Giants to the Twins in 2004. From then until now, here’s how their numbers compare:

                    G     SV    SV%     IP     ERA    SO/9   BB/9    OAVG
Mariano Rivera    577    355    92%    604    1.89     8.5    1.6    .209
Joe Nathan        567    327    91%    567    2.17    10.8    2.5    .189

If not for Rivera’s presence as the greatest closer of all time Nathan’s perceived place in the pantheon of relievers would probably be a lot different. Nathan has saved 327 games with a 91 percent success rate and 2.17 ERA since 2004, compared to 355 saves with a 92 percent success rate and 1.89 ERA from Rivera during that time.

Of course, Rivera also racked up 283 saves with a 2.49 ERA in 650 innings before 2004 and has that ridiculously incredible postseason record too, which is why he’s the greatest closer of all time and Nathan is “only” someone who’s pitched like the greatest closer of all time for a decade. Still, with his save last night serving as merely an afterthought to Rivera’s appearance I thought Nathan deserved some attention for an exceptional closing career of his own.

Hernandez hits three home runs, powering Dodgers past Cubs 11-1 to win NL pennant

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The Dodgers will appear in the World Series for the first time since 1988 after defeating the Cubs 11-1 in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night. The Dodgers scored early and often, making Thursday’s affair devoid of any stress.

Cody Bellinger drove in a run with a double against Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the first inning. Enrique Hernandez tacked on a solo home run to center field in the second. The Dodgers broke it open in the third, as Quintana allowed hits to all four hitters he faced in the inning: a ground-rule double to Chris Taylor, an RBI single to Justin Turner, and two more singles to Bellinger and Yasiel Puig. Hector Rondon relieved Quintana and, after striking out Logan Forsythe, he served up a grand slam to Hernandez to make it a 7-0 game. Forsythe hit a two-run double off of John Lackey in the fourth pad the lead to 9-0. Hernandez added a third home run, a two-run shot, off of Mike Montgomery in the ninth to push the score to 11-1.

Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a playoff game and the fifth to knock in seven runs. The other four were in the American League, so Hernandez’s seven RBI marks a new National League record.

Kris Bryant hit a solo home run off of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, but that was it for offense on the Cubs’ side. Kershaw tossed six innings in total, allowing the one run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts spanning 89 pitches.

Kenta Maeda took over for Kershaw in the seventh, working a 1-2-3 inning. Brandon Morrow got the eighth and worked around a one-out single with three strikeouts.

With a 10-run lead, closer Kenley Jansen took the hill in the ninth. He got Bryant to line out to left field, Anthony Rizzo to fly out, and Willson Contreras to line out to shortstop to seal the 11-1 victory — and the pennant — for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers will wait to see who they will face in the World Series. The Yankees are one game away from punching their ticket, leading the ALCS 3-2. They’ll match up with the Astros in Houston on Friday.

If the Yankees end up being the Dodgers’ World Series opponent, it will be the two clubs’ 12th meeting in the Fall Classic. As Craig noted on Twitter, the Yankees have the upper hand, having won eight of those 11 series.