September 3, 2009

Underappreciated Rivera dealing with sore groin

Peter Abraham is reporting Mariano Rivera was not available last night because he had already pitched two days in a row and that his groin was sore.

Rivera, always a man of few words, actually made some comments with substance.

“I feel good. I feel good. There is soreness in the groin. We’re just taking precautions but I’m OK.”

Via (PeteAbe): When will he pitch again? “We’re going day-by-day, hopefully as soon as possible. … We have a lot of time and I don’t want to push it and make it worse. We have time.”

It sounds like everything is under control, thank god. Normally, I wouldn’t even bother posting something as small as this. But I did it with Mo because I feel he just hasn’t been appreciated as much as he deserves.

This is a guy who hasn’t had to change a single part of his pitching in 13 years. He hasn’t made one change, and he still posts the same dominant numbers.

Mo’s lone pitch, the cutter, defies everything every pitcher in the world is taught: change speeds. I have never seen — or heard — of Rivera throwing a pitch significantly below 90 mph. A slider, curve or a change. Nothing!

So if he doesn’t change speeds, how in the world is he the most successful closer in baseball history? Quite simply, he rarely misses a target, and his cutter’s movement breaks too late to make an adjustment. This is why so many left-handed hitters’ bats break.

The hitters see a pitch right down the middle, so they square the barrel of the bat accordingly. But the ball never stays in the middle, and it breaks in toward the hands — usually shattering the skinny part of the bat.

I find myself guessing which corner he will hit on the upcoming pitch, or if he will try and ring up the hitter on a high fastball. He’s easily the most enjoyable pitcher to watch, for me at least.

If you don’t think he is underappreciated, just look at how consistent his numbers have been over his career. Find me another relief pitcher who has nine seasons with an ERA under 2. How about the all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman? No, not even close. This season would be just the second time in his 17-year career with a sub-two ERA.

Not to mention, he had the best year of his career when he was 38 years old, last year. He posted his lowest ERA (1.40), WHIP (.665) and highest SO/BB ratio by nearly double his previous record (12.83 to 6.92). If Mariano Rivera hit his prime last year, baseball could be witnessing the only pitcher who ever reaches 1,000 career saves (joke). I rest my case.

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