Rivera – What if he does come back this season?

First of all, we won’t know until Rivera pitches what he will be able to do. After all, 99 percent of Rivera’s success came from his leg drive, always one of the longest in baseball. With his legs being the key to his success, can he again be Mo with a surgically repaired knee? We won’t know until (and unfortunately, if) he tries to pitch again.

Secondly, Rafael Soriano, the relief pitcher we all tried to hate initially, is pitching quite Mo-like. Soriano has blown only one save all season and has consistently rescued Joe Girardi’s relief-pitcher-roulette in the ninth as well. When Soriano has come into the game, we have all rested quite comfortably knowing that the game is probably over. Soriano has been a consistent and important cog in this great run the Yankees are having. Do you want to mess with that?

These thoughts are most certainly the oddest and most unexpected thoughts that have ever entered this tangled brain. Mariano Rivera has been the best relief pitcher in the history of the game. Kay said that Rivera thinks he can pitch another year or two. Based on his last season and how he started this season before the injury, who is to doubt him? But if he comes back, how good will he be and will it be as good as what Soriano has given the Yankees this season? Would Rivera automatically be the closer after the run Soriano has put together? Strange thoughts, friends, strange thoughts.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

22 thoughts on “Rivera – What if he does come back this season?

  1. Really?If he came back in september I'm sure they would have enough time to gauge his ability in both rehab appearances and regular season.We are talking about the same guy that only throws around 10 innings of spring training to get ready.This is a non-argument

    • He throws 10 innings after doing all of his conditioning work while coming into camp healthy. That's a lot different than getting ready while rehabbing a torn ACL.

  2. shouldn't the real discussion be what happens if Mo doesn't come back and Soriano opts-out to close somewhere else?

  3. "Kay said that Rivera thinks he can pitch another year or two. Based on his last season and how he started this season before the injury, who is to doubt him?"

    Don't forget the big preseason controversy. Though it was half a season ago, Mr. Rivera strongly hinted that this would be his last year. So strongly that we all assumed that his end-of-year mystery announcement would be, "Thanks for the laughs, I'm out." Then he blew out his knee, then he promised that he wouldn't go out without a fight. The details of that fight are forthcoming.

    The Yankees, more than in the past, have become a cold steel organization. Given the way the team is playing without Brett Gardner, without Andy Pettitte, without Michael Pineda (Oh yeah…), and without Lord Mariano, they certainly won't throw the Mo out there for the sake of tradition. That is, unless they know for certain that he will destroy the competition.

    I hope that Mo comes back, but my interest in the field of mathematics prevents me from demanding nostalgic appeasement. I expect to see him in spring training next year but there is no reason, at this point, to force his return.

  4. I hope he comes back – just so we have a SECOND closer that can be counted on.

    Brien used the phrase "wasting bullets" yesterday, referring to using Soriano with a big lead. As we have seen in the last couple of games – RS appears to be the only reliever we have who has ANY bullets left in his gun. Two games in a row, he's been forced to come in and bail out the mess made by the "other" guys.

    I'd be much happier if they took turns, night by night, closing. Plus – wouldn't it be nice to have one of them in your pocket – should the other just HAPPEN to not be magical that evening?

  5. I proud to say I was never one of the morons whining about having another good pitcher on this team (meaning Soriano)…

    Can Mariano come back and add value to this team as a middle reliever in his '96 mold??? Hell yeah, do I want him back as the closer in 2012? Gotta be honest, no.

    Maybe I'm being naive but as i mentioned he already has the saves record… it would be sort of akin to convincing Jeter to move down in the lineup AFTER breaking Pete Rose's record, i mean they still wouldn't like it, but I think you can sell Rivera on the idea of ending his god-like run as he began it

    • If Rivera comes back and pitches like he did in the best season of his career, why would you want to "downgrade" his role?

      • 1. Because Soriano is a far better "closer" than set up man

        2. Rivera has already proven he can thrive as a set up man, I'd argue he was at his most valuable to this team not during this entire run at closer, but in 1996 setting up for Wet-land

        3. I understand Mo is God and all… but expecting him to come back from a knee injury, close to turning 43, expecting him to pitch at his very best??? really???

        4. Let's be honest, Soriano is what, 24 for 25… and the one game he blew he didn't lose it, only blew the lead, team still won the game, WHIP isn't incredible but ERA down to around 1.47 now… this is as good as it gets, period

        • I'm sorry, but Mariano Rivera's performance as a setup man in the late 1990s "proves" very little in 2012. Not that I don't think he can do it, but I'd like to see a more relevant set of statistics before I start throwing "proof" around like it means something.

          • Well I of course am not a believer in the tiered bullpen anyway, so I see very little utility to this conversation anyway. Heck, I’d be cool with letting Soriano keep closing just to get him to opt out of the last year of his contract.

          • Why would you want Soriano to opt out of the last year of his contract?

            The guy's a major asset… and it's not YOUR money… stuff like that just makes me nauseous …

          • I don’t care so long as the people who ARE spending the money don’t care, but by all indications they are concerned about, say, luxury tax hits. So the extra $12.5 million they’ll owe Soriano next year is a major factor if it takes away from, say, filling right field once they let Swisher go. Maybe that’s worth it in some cases, but with Robertson and Joba available and Mo figuring to come back, Soriano figures to be a luxury good, or a very expensive (and unreliable) insurance policy in the best case.

  6. if Mo can return with time to get into shape for the play-off run and he's pitching like MO then there is no question I want him back as the closer. Soriano has pitched in 6 play-off games, 3 games as closer for Tampa where he posted a 9 era, and 3 for the yanks last year where he was very effective as a setup man. The only relief pitcher better than Mo during the regular season is Mo during the play-offs where he is simply super human. If Mo is not pitching well, then obviously Soriano is the choice, but if the cutter is breaking then there is no decision to make.