Mechanical analysis of three of the AL's dominant closers.
Relief pitchers have been in vogue lately, whether carving out air time on TINSTAAPP or funking upRaising Aces. The RP-Funk All-Stars may have all hailed from the senior circuit, but some of the most impressive performances of the season have come from the American League. Ninth-inning relievers have been dominating hitters and shortening games all across the AL, as no fewer than five different closers entered Thursday's action with an ERA under 2.00. Although he falls just short of inclusion to that particular club this season, we start the show with none other than the greatest stopper of all time.
(all stats through 8/28/13, PITCHf/x stats are courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net)
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Three straight blown saves move Mariano Rivera into the second tier, as Mike unveils his latest rankings and updates the year-to-date earnings for relievers.
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week this factors into the ranking as well.
Mariano Rivera has blown three straight save opportunities, but the Yankees won their weekend matchup anyway.
The Weekend Takeaway
As former Yankees beat writer Pete Abraham pointed out on Twitter yesterday afternoon, sometimes a series of hiccups can remind us of a player’s greatness. Fortunately for the team Abraham covered before moving to the Boston Globe, Mariano Rivera’s hiccups this weekend merely delayed victories instead of costing them games.
Despite flubbing a save opportunity on August 7 in a one-run contest that the Yankees ultimately dropped to the White Sox, Rivera sported a 1.70 ERA, remarkable for a 43-year-old pitcher in his 18th big-league season. That hiccup was his third blown chance of the year, and heading into Friday’s opener against the Tigers, he still had permitted only two home runs in 42 1/3 innings of work.
Scouts' takes on Travis d'Arnaud, Chris Johnson, Mariano Rivera, Ian Kennedy, and other interesting players.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.
Can the best reliever ever hold a candle to history's strongest starters?
Recently, Mariano Rivera revealed that 2013 would be his final season. It wasn’t unexpected news, in that Rivera is 43 years old and coming off a serious injury that caused him to consider retirement in 2012. But the report, however predictable, hit many fans hard. Not only is Rivera respected and beloved both inside and outside of New York (a relative rarity for a big, bad Yankee), but he’s shown so little erosion in his skills that it’s possible to picture him throwing his cutter until he turns 50. Most players go through a decline phase, which gives us time to get used to the idea that it’s about to be over. Rivera really hasn’t, except in the sense that he’s less durable than he once was.
Rivera’s announcement inspired many written responses, one of which was an email to me from a reader named David Greene. “Rivera’s true ranking among pitchers all-time,” the subject line said.
Ben and Sam answer listener emails about the worst team to work for, what baseball would look like without outfield fences, when it's okay to give up on high draft picks, and how Mariano Rivera compares to top starting pitchers.
Degree of greatness doesn't always correlate to the ability to say farewell.
This past week brought news that the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history has decided to retire following the season. Mariano Rivera broke into the major leagues with the Yankees in 1995. That season he appeared in 19 games for New York, starting 10, with an ERA of 5.51. That was the last season in his 18-year career that he started games and, other than 2007, the last in which he posted an ERA over the 3.00. He may not be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but if not it’ll be due to ridiculousness on the part of the voters.
While Rivera prepares for his graceful swan song, a coda to a certain Hall of Fame career, another all-time great is preparing for a very different postscript. This past weekend CBS’s Jon Heyman reported that Manny Ramirez signed a contract to play with the Rhinos. That would be the EDA Rhinos of Taiwan. The Rhinos play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, which, I have been informed through a very special source COUGHwikipediaCOUGH, contains four teams. Including the Rhinos.