Yankees: The Five Most Effective Pitchers In Franchise History

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Enter Sandman  #42

With some expected controversy, Mariano Rivera receives the #1 Ranking as the Most Effective Yankees Pitcher in Franchise History. His inclusion as a closer, however, should fall beyond the scope of reasonable argument when you consider all that he meant to his team.

Seemingly constructed of ice, Rivera achieved his record number of saves, mainly, with the mastery of just one pitch, his cutter. Self-taught, the pitch looks like a fastball and is a fastball until the last possible millisecond as it crosses the plate with a “break” at the end that cut hundreds of bats in two pieces or more throughout his career.

With a delivery that never varied from one pitch to the next, Rivera almost seemed like a robot out there at times, as pitch after pitch crossed the strike zone, leaving batters paralyzed in the box.

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Mariano Rivera had a 19-year career, all with the Yankees, and could have extended that time if he had wished to do so before retiring at the age of 43 in 2013. He will be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 2019, and by all rights should be a unanimous selection, save for the old guard writers who (still) don’t believe that the game today is all about a team’s bullpen.

Hailing from the country of Panama, Rivera was selected as a free agent along with his cousin Ruben Rivera in the June 1990 amateur draft by the Yankees. An original member of the Yankees Core Four, Rivera rose slowly through the team’s minor league system and did not make the big league team until 1995 at the age of 25.

Ironically, Rivera wasn’t immediately installed as the Yankees closer. Instead, he became the set-up man for John Wetteland, logging a career-high 117 innings in 1996, earning his first Championship Ring, while Wetteland captured the World Series MVP award.

After that season, though, Rivera became the closer for the Yankees until his retirement, recording 40 or more saves in a season nine times, including a mind-boggling 44 saves in the year he chose to walk away from the game (2013).

Mariano Rivera defies all logic as to what a human being should be able to accomplish with a baseball in his hand.

But it’s when you scroll down his stats in Baseball Reference and reach the Postseason that Rivera takes on an aura that defies all logic as to what a human being should be able to accomplish with a baseball in his hand.

How is it possible, for instance, that a player can appear in as many as 96 Postseason games and record an ERA of 0.70, surrender only two home runs over 140 innings, and registering a WHIP under one (.759)?

Mariano Rivera may be underappreciated only because he made it look so easy. And everything he did on the mound was unceremonious, unlike, for example, Goose Gossage (a Yankees Hall Of Fame member), who almost fell off the mound when he unleashed one of his patented 95mph fastballs.

Instead, and not to take anything away from Gossage, Rivera was grace and style. He was the man who loped in when the bullpen doors opened to the unlikely roar of not only Yankees fans, but the pounding rhythm of Metallica.

And from there, it was as simple as one-two-three, followed by the first notes of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” and everybody goes home happy. It was magic, but it was never an illusion.

Next: Yankees: Four Off Season Mulligans

Make no mistake about it, Mariano Rivera earned his status as The Most Effective Pitcher In Yankees Franchise History.