But for at least the next two weeks, the team will be forced to go with a closer-by-committee.
Just minutes after completing a 4-2 victory against the Baltimore Orioles in Derek Jeter's final home opener on Monday, manager Joe Girardi announced that David Robertson, Rivera's successor, had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain.
Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record the save, the first of his career.
"I'll just try to hold down the fort until D-Rob gets back," Kelley said.
How long that will take, no one seems to know. Robertson, who said he had never suffered a groin injury before, injured himself while pitching the ninth inning of Sunday's 6-4 win against the Blue Jays in Toronto. After reporting continued pain after arriving at Yankee Stadium on Monday morning, he underwent an MRI that revealed the Grade 1 strain in his left leg.
"There's no way I could [go] out there and pitch 100 percent, do what I do, the way I'm feeling right now," he said.
Robertson advanced to the closer's job after serving a three-year apprenticeship as Rivera's setup man, and in 2011 he was among the most difficult relievers to hit in the American League, with a 1.08 ERA, 100 strikeouts in 66 innings and a .170 opponents' batting average.
He previously had been given the closer's job in May 2012, when Rivera suffered a season-ending knee injury, but went on the DL with an oblique strain after a handful of appearances and found that when he returned, the closer's job had been given to Rafael Soriano, who held it all season and saved 42 games.
"It seems like something always happens to me," Robertson said. "It's definitely a little frustrating."
Robertson said he felt the injury "after about five or six pitches" on Sunday, in which he pitched a scoreless ninth but allowed a walk and a hit.
"It kinda cost me a little command but I grinded through it," Robertson said. "But I think I can be back in 15 days."
In three appearances this season, Robertson had earned two saves, allowing no runs and one hit in three innings pitched. In his absence, Girardi said the closing duties would be shared between Kelley and other relievers, including Adam Warren, who pitched well in Monday's victory, David Phelps and rookie right-hander Dellin Betances, who earned a job with an excellent spring training.
"Well, it's not what you want, but you gotta figure it out," Girardi said. "We've had to deal with this before and other guys will just have to step up in his absence."
The Yankees recalled lefty reliever Cesar Cabral from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill Robertson's spot on the roster.