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.