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.