The figure of the traditional closer in baseball is less and less frequent every year.
Teams have correctly identified that their best reliever should not be tied to the ninth inning: sometimes he may be needed in the eighth, sometimes in the seventh, and sometimes even in the fifth.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has used a closer, but for a night in which Matt Barnes wasn’t available, he had to turn to another pitcher.
It was Jake Diekman.
Media covering the Red Sox was eager to ask Cora if Diekman could now be considered Boston’s closer, but Cora provided a clever response that shows he isn’t married to anyone for ninth-inning duties.
“Is Jake Diekman your closer? Alex Cora: ‘He was tonight’,” MLB.com’s Red Sox beat writer Ian Browne tweeted late on Sunday.
Is Jake Diekman your closer?
Alex Cora: “He was tonight.”
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) April 11, 2022
Diekman, A Late Signing, Was Awfully Impressive In Sunday’s Finale
Diekman was extremely impressive in the series finale against the New York Yankees: he struck out the heart of the order in succession to end the game: first Aaron Judge, then Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo to successfully convert the save.
The lockout wasn’t kind for Diekman, who signed his contract on March 15, with spring training already underway.
That happened despite the left-hander posting a quality 3.86 ERA last season in the Oakland Athletics bullpen.
He even served as the closer for a brief period, and was successful: he had seven saves in 60 2/3 innings.
Diekman doesn’t seem to care if he is the closer or not; he just wants to contribute.
He did so in spectacular fashion on Sunday night.