Now that Mariano Rivera has said he plans to rehab his torn ACL and pitch next season the natural question is whether there’s any chance he could return this year.
One recent example of a pitcher coming back from a torn ACL in the same season is Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers, who suffered the injury on May 1, 2008 and was back in the Brewers’ rotation on September 25. And then he even started the Brewers’ first playoff game.
Rivera suffered his torn ACL on May 3, so he essentially has as much time left in the season as Gallardo did in 2008, but of course Gallardo was 22 years old and Rivera is 42.
Asked about Rivera’s chances of throwing another pitch for the Yankees this season, manager Joe Girardi replied “doubtful” and even cited Gallardo’s situation before saying that “you worry about the strength and the stability of the leg, it’s a big part of pitching and it would be a concern.”
Obviously no one is counting on Rivera pitching again in 2012, but it’s interesting that the door is still open at least a crack.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.