According to reports from the Yankee clubhouse, Joe Torre will not use Mariano Rivera tonight. While the Yanks’ closer and manager insist that number 42 is a paragon of health, this certainly raises my eyebrows. Last year around now, Rivera missed a month with a mysterious elbow injury that started with a few days’ extra rest after a few ineffective appearances by the Sandman. Is history repeating itself?
Well, we all lived through the highs and lows of that one together today. So I’m not going to spend too much time on a bullet-point recap. The Yanks now have to take three out of four from Detroit this weekend, and I have no idea who closes.
Let’s look for a second at Rivera. Around this time last year, Rivera mysteriously hit the DL with elbow tenderness, and I fear that this problem has been lurking ever since. Last week in Toronto, Rivera dialed it up a notch to strike out the side and preserve a win. Since then, his command and velocity have been off, and his numbers have suffered.
Since Toronto, Rivera has thrown 4.1 IP with bad results. Discount the first scoreless, hitless innings, and his last three appearances look like this: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 K.
While many people were clamoring for Joba to pitch the 10th, that’s simply revisionist managing. In this situation every time, Rivera should pitch. No doubt about it.
But the results make me wonder what’s wrong with Rivera. Is he hurt? Is his elbow aching? It would appear so. He’s been wild in the zone and wild out of the zone. His stuff has no bite. All signs point to injury.
The Yanks blew a golden opportunity to steal a game today against the potential AL Cy Young Award winner. But more importantly they need Rivera. Hopefully, he’s okay, but I’m not overly optimistic right now.
I was stuck watching the Blue Jays’ MLB.tv feed for reasons that aren’t important. At the start of the 9th, the boring Blue Jays announcers said that Mariano is “not quite as intimidating as he used to be.” So how does Mariano respond (to a comment he obviously didn’t hear)? Well, by throwing 11 of 16 pitches for strikes and striking out Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas to nail down the save. Take that, Toronto.
March + April: 7.2 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 10.57 ERA
May: 10 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 1.74 ERA