The New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night capturing another American League East division crown and it will force the Baltimore Orioles to face the Texas Rangers in the wild card playoff to determine who will face the Yankees in the American League Division Series. With playoffs, for the Yankees, comes tradition and familiar faces. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera are all faces that you can associate with the Yankees in October.
There is one problem, Posada retired to start the season and closer Mariano Rivera has been on the shelf after tearing his ACL in April. Rivera has been the man for the Yankees ever since he started to close for the team in 1997. He has won five World Series championships with the team and for him to not be in the postseason and bring his all-time postseason saves record, 42, to the 2012 playoffs is blasphemous.
This is where 2012 closer Rafael Soriano needs to step up, in the MLB Playoffs. Soriano has closely matched his career-high in saves with 42 this season. He has been great and what the Yankees needed to anchor down the bullpen, but there is a difference between the regular season and the postseason. Soriano has made six appearances in the playoffs, three games for the Yankees in 2011 and three games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. His ERA is 4.13 and has a 5.9 H/9 ratio which is not that great. Those numbers have to change.
His mindset has to the change. The Yankees will be the No. 1 seed and will have home field advantage in the American League playoffs. Soriano has to become the anchor in the bullpen. There isn’t going to be Rivera to bail the Yankees out in tough spots. It is a different Yankees team than we have seen in the past but without Rivera the team still has become the best team in the American League.
Soriano is leading a bullpen that needs to come up huge in the playoffs. If Soriano can lead them into the trenches in close games, the Yankees will win the World Series, without Rivera in the bullpen for the first time since 1996.
Follow Ryan Gaydos on Twitter.