It seems like a premature question to even ask but after three superb seasons with Atlanta it’s time to ask – is Craig Kimbrel the next Mariano Rivera?

Rivera rode off into the sunset after one final emotional appearance at Yankee Stadium late last month as he was taken off the mound by longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. With the title of the game’s best active closer now up for grabs there’s only one man that comes to mind.

Kimbrel just 25 years old has been as impressive as any player in the game over the past three seasons and will only continue to get better as he matures at the big league level.

But first let’s look back at the first two season’s Rivera held the Yankees closer role to get some type of a frame of reference.

In 1997 the young Rivera went 4-3 with a 2.10 earned run average nailing down 46 saves in his first season as the Yankees’ closer. The next season he followed with a 3-0 record with a minuscule 1.91 ERA and 36 saves. That sets a pretty high bar for any closer – let alone a young reliever looking to make his mark in New York.