In order to guarantee that Mariano Rivera could make an appearance in his final All-Star game manager Jim Leyland used him in the eighth inning, which led to Joe Nathan closing out the win for the American League in the ninth.
That wasn’t quite ideal, although it didn’t seem to take away from the spectacular moment involving Rivera’s entrance and, of course, Nathan is a damn good pitcher too. In fact, Rivera and Nathan have been extremely similar in their long-term dominance.
Nathan took over as a closer after being traded from the Giants to the Twins in 2004. From then until now, here’s how their numbers compare:
G SV SV% IP ERA SO/9 BB/9 OAVG
Mariano Rivera 577 355 92% 604 1.89 8.5 1.6 .209
Joe Nathan 567 327 91% 567 2.17 10.8 2.5 .189
If not for Rivera’s presence as the greatest closer of all time Nathan’s perceived place in the pantheon of relievers would probably be a lot different. Nathan has saved 327 games with a 91 percent success rate and 2.17 ERA since 2004, compared to 355 saves with a 92 percent success rate and 1.89 ERA from Rivera during that time.
Of course, Rivera also racked up 283 saves with a 2.49 ERA in 650 innings before 2004 and has that ridiculously incredible postseason record too, which is why he’s the greatest closer of all time and Nathan is “only” someone who’s pitched like the greatest closer of all time for a decade. Still, with his save last night serving as merely an afterthought to Rivera’s appearance I thought Nathan deserved some attention for an exceptional closing career of his own.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.