The Development of Mariano Rivera

The Price for Matt Garza
Open Thread: Presented Without Comment

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.

The Price for Matt Garza
Open Thread: Presented Without Comment
  • Tom Swift

    Future pitching coach?

  • dean

    One trick and maybe the most repeatable delivery in the history of the game…..which leads to maybe the best fastball command in the history of the game.

    All that said…..he hasn’t exactly thrown “one pitch” in awhile. He throws enough 4 seamers to keep hitters honest and has for some time…..still a fastball but its different to hitters.

    • Ted Nelson

      Fangraghs has him at 87% cutters last season… he throws the cutter 9 out of 10 pitches.

    • msm35

      Finally some intelligent analysis of #42. This one pitch pitcher stuff has always been nonsense. The ability to throw strikes to both sides of the plate has always been his best asset. More or less movement depending on the desired location is how he gets by. Great pitchers have always done that. Ferguson Jenkins, Catfish Hunter and Robin Roberts lived by location.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    I’ve always said that Mo Rivera is the best ‘pound-for-pound’ baseball player in the history of the game.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I’ll go with Eddie Gaedel. They never got that guy out and had to change the rules to ban him from the game. Simply Amazing..

    • Plank

      Jack Cust

    • jsbrendog

      stubby clap… wait…

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    In recent months, perhaps a year it has emerged that saves are not important. The saying goes that any reliever can get the last three outs. Of course I never concurred with this view. It takes, in my view , a special, cold blooded individual to do this under pressure and especially so in NY where a player is under a magnifying glass all the time. Do I think that the Yankees would have won those five world series in Mo’s time without him? Absolutely not. In fact, I do not even think Mariano has ever gotten the credit he deserves. The owners have because they rewarded him with the best contracts for a reliever ever.

    • Esteban

      I don’t think relievers are fungible and especially not great ones like Mariano, but I don’t think it’s some really special skill to close that only some pitchers have. What percentage of save opportunities come with a reliever (the closer) entering the game in the top or bottom of the ninth with no one on base and a three run lead? Not to take anything away from Mariano, because he’s the greatest of all time and clearly better than every other closer in both longevity and overall skill, but if a reliever can’t get 3 outs without giving up 3 runs, then that pitcher probably sucks anyway. And of course, the focus on saves has led managers to save their closer, who is supposed to be their best relief pitcher for situations that may never come instead of higher leverage situations in the 7th or 8th inning. The save is a stupid stat that has altered baseball managing, and Mariano was the best reliever ever before he had the all time record for saves.

    • Gonzo

      I am not disagreeing or agreeing with you. I just wanted to share this article with you.

  • munson78

    Never having pitched in a M.L. game, I can only give an opinion, and that is all those people who think getting saves are easy never had to face major league hitters in the 9th inning.