When the New York Yankees begin the 2013 season, they’ll do so with perhaps the most feared part of their veteran Yankee triple threat. Of course pitchers hate facing Derek Jeter, batters dread Andy Pettitte, but nobody fears them like they do Mariano Rivera. In 2013, the Sandman will make his long awaited return after tearing his ACL last May.
Can Mo drive home the fear again in opposing batters for one more year?
Rivera, 43, who sits as the all-time saves leader in the MLB with 608, will look at 2013 to be year that may see a great career end. Rivera has contemplated retirement before, most notably after his torn ACL last season, but had decided calling it quits wasn’t in his game plan at that moment. Now Rivera has Yankee fans, the media and the MLB pondering whether or not he’ll retire after the 2013. Rivera hasn’t said either way, but said that if he had played in a full 2012, he would have retired in the off-season.
Enough of the possible retirement talk, let’s get focused on this season. As Yankee fans, what we can expect out of Mo is consistency and professionalism at the highest level still. Don’t think for a second that missing the majority of last season is going to hamper the Sandman and his devastating cutter. Rivera has only had an ERA above 3.00 twice in his career, 1995 and 2007. Other than that, Mo’s been absolutely a dominant force on the mound and career ERA of 2.21 alongside his saves total only proves that.
In 2013, Rivera has a very different bullpen to work with than he did in 2011. Aside from Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, the rest of the bullpen is new for him, but it’s highly doubtful that it will affect him much at all.
Obviously New Yorkers can expect the best out of Rivera in 2013 as they have in any year before. Whether or not it is his last year remains to be seen, but I’d imagine if it was, we’d see Mo giving it his all as always and possibly topping out as the best reliever in the AL. If there’s an image for the word consistency in the dictionary, Rivera’s face is going to be right there.
When it’s all said and done, Rivera’s save record will never be touched. Alongside Trevor Hoffman, Rivera will go down as the greatest closer in baseball history and there’s really no disputing that. The only player I see possibly threatening Rivera’s consistency is Craig Kimbrel. From what we have seen out of Kimbrel, he’s racked up 88 saves in his first two full years of relief, something that Rivera never did. Regardless, aside from the young Kimbrel, there’s not a pitcher I believe that will ever surpass Rivera’s legacy.
My prediction for Rivera’s 2013: 42 saves, 2.03 ERA, 63 innings pitched, 65 strikeouts, 10 walks.
Let’s hope Rivera can give 2013 one last swing and miss cutter.