After moving past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves leaderboard yesterday Mariano Rivera was asked whether he plans to keep playing once his current contract with the Yankees is up following next season:
Every year it’s harder and harder. So I mean it’s a decision that we have to make as a family and we’ll go from there. I know that I have another year going on. I don’t know if I can pitch for another three years guys. It’s hard out there. It’s not easy. And I have no hair left. So I don’t know, I don’t know. Like I said I know that I have another year and then after that, I’ll let you know.
It might seem “harder and harder” for Rivera at age 41–especially with “no hair left”–but his actual performance certainly hasn’t declined any. He’s saved 43 games with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio in 59 innings this season, posting the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his brilliant career while being on pace for his most saves since 2003. And his velocity has remained pretty steady during the past handful of seasons, with his cutter actually clocking in slightly faster than in 2009 and 2010.
Getting to 700 saves may not mean a ton to Rivera, but he has a chance to get there and set the bar for future closers ridiculously high considering no other active pitcher has even 350 right now. Rivera is under contract for $15 million next season and projects to have around 640 saves by the time he has to decide whether to re-up with the Yankees again.
Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.
Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.
Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:
He definitely gets points for style.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.
It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.
It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.
Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:
“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”
That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.