Francisco Rodriguez was a late season call up who smoked batters and helped the Angels win the World Series in 2002. He is a whopping 23 years old and already has 3 postseason years under his belt. Despite last year's losses to the Boston Red Sox during their miracle run to end the curse, K-Rod has a postseaosn record of 5-3 with a 2.31 ERA. This postseason he has good stats marred by 1 HR he gave up in game 2 against the Yankees. He just finished off the White Sox in game 1 of the ALCS with 11 pitches in one inning of work. While Scot Sheilds did an amazing job tonight to get the Angels out of trouble and bridge the game to get to K-Rod, K-Rod filled the role of Mariano Rivera. K-Rod is the premier shutdown reliever of the future.
I am not saying K-Rod will be as good as Rivera has been. K-Rod is still developing, but he is already among the best in the MLB. I think their developments are similar. Rivera was the set up man for an established closer, and K-Rod was the set up man for Troy Percival. Both have closed down the best hitters in the game on the game's biggest stage. Rivera's K/BB ratio is slightly better 3.38 to 3.15 in the regular season but the gap grows in the postseason (excluding 2005). Rivera's is 6.07 vs. K-Rod's 4.125 but if you look at Rivera's stats through his first 2 postseason's he had a K/BB ratio of 3.0. Of course, Rivera's ERA was microscopic (sub .75) and K-Rod has given up more HRs. Do I think K-Rod is as good as Rivera, no. River has stayed on top for a long time compared to the average reliever. I do not think we'll see a reliever like Rivera for a long time unless K-Rod maintains his current abilities for a 5+ year span. Not now, but in 3 years when the Angels have a WS or two more in the bank, the real comparisons will begin and the Stat Nerds can jump in and start formally debating.