With Matt Barnes still unavailable with a back injury and Garrett Whitlock slated to pitch next in Detroit, the Red Sox needed an arm to trust to take on the heart of the Yankees’ order in the ninth inning on Sunday night. So Alex Cora called upon Jake Diekman for the save situation.
The veteran left-hander, who signed with Boston for two years and $8 million this offseason, rose to the occasion to strike out Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo to finish off a 4-3 win and Boston’s first victory of 2022.
While the Red Sox do not have a full-time closer set in stone at this point, Diekman showed poise in making quality pitches with the game on the line. Diekman historically worked as a setup man prior to joining the Red Sox, and he will most likely operate in that role most often moving forward. At the same time, his performance on Sunday night keeps him in the mix as a candidate to give Barnes and Whitlock more breathers as a fill-in closer.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Diekman noted – profanely – that having a set role in the bullpen is not a priority. When asked after the game if he wanted to be the closer, Diekman replied: “I don’t really give two s***s.”
Diekman looks to continue to be a high-leverage arm for Cora to turn to after building some early confidence.