Mariano Rivera’s tough week has a lot of New York Yankees fans concerned. Like all of us, Mo is human. But before you push the panic button, consider this.
Who has he surrendered the home runs to? How about a Triple Crown Winner, Miguel Cabrera. And how about a hitter who is batting .350 in his last ten games, Victor Martinez. Yes, sometimes great hitters do get the best of great pitchers. This hardly means that Rivera is losing it.
Now, what about his control? In the last ten games Rivera has walked only one batter. So he certainly isn’t losing his overall command. In the 11 innings he pitched, he has struck out ten. So his velocity and movement are still there. In fact, in the seven innings before those last three outings, he did not give up a run.
Manager Joe Girardi’s evaluation was right on the money.“It’s not like you forget how to pitch in a week, Girardi said. He just had a bad week.”
The problem is, we have seen CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and even Andy Pettitte struggle, so our nerves get tested when our ace in the hole has a couple of rough outings. Don’t get swayed by the doubters on the internet, they can look for reasons anywhere they want- age, overuse, the emotional exhaustion of the impending finish of his career.
But Rivera has already diagnosed the problem, so the solution can’t be far behind. He is already concentrating on his release point.
“To Martinez the ball was just laying flat up. And also with Miguel,” he explained. “You’re facing professional hitters. If you don’t put the ball where you need to, you’re going to get hit.”
He added, “It’s a profession, you know what you’re doing. That’s why I have a pitching coach and a bullpen coach. They tell you what you’re doing wrong.”
This is Mariano Rivera. The greatest closer in history. The most successful ever in post-season. The one who pitched a scoreless inning in the recent all- star game against some of the top hitters in the game. It’s just three games. So leave that panic button alone.