Mariano Rivera is the most successful one-trick pony in baseball history, throwing cutter after cutter and mowing down big leaguers for the last decade and a half like no one else. David Laurila of FanGraphs recently spoke to Mariano and a few others about the cutter and his success, and the most interesting part to me was what they had to say about Rivera’s development as a pitcher over the years.
“The game alone will teach you a lot,” said Mo. “I’ve learned from a lot of people, but I’ve especially learned from situations, You won’t have a person who can sit with you and tell you what to do or what not to do. The best teacher is the game itself. When you go through tough times, and tough years, that will teach you. It will guide you in the right way … Earlier in my career, I threw the ball and it moved inside to lefties and away from righties. That’s how I thought about it. I didn’t use it as effectively as I could have. Now I vary [the break] and throw it in different areas.”
Laurila also spoke to Jorge Posada, who mentioned that Rivera uses both a tight and a big-breaking cutter depending on the situation these days. I think we’ve all kinda assumed that Rivera was a thinking man’s pitcher, using his years of knowledge and his historically great command to overwhelm hitters despite his advanced age, so this isn’t much of a surprise. It’s still interesting to read though. Just about all of Laurila’s interviews are great, and this one is no exception. Click the link and check it out, it gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.