Mariano Rivera has been doing the same routine before every game for years. He takes fly balls in the outfield to prepare himself for games. He did so again on Thursday, and it didn’t end so well. Mariano tore his ACL when his cleat was caught between the outfield grass and the dirt on the warning track. When reporters asked Mariano if he would pitch again this season, while obviously distraught, he simply said: “I don’t know.”
In his 17 years of Major League experience, this is the first major injury he has suffered. He was the model of consistency, and was extremely durable.
You can never replace a Hall of Fame pitcher, especially the greatest closer of all time.
The Yankees will be put in an interesting and tough situation. This doesn’t signal the automatic end of the Yankees season, but it does cause concern. Who do you make your closer the rest of the way? Do you go with Rafael Soriano. The reliever who, while being shaky in his first year in pinstripes, saved 45 games for the Tampa Bay Rays just two seasons ago? Or do you go with the electric and reliable reliever in David Robertson, who has only three career saves? If it was up to me, I would put Robertson in the position. He has shown the ability to close out games and has come in during tight spots.He’s a strikeout pitcher who has a devastating curveball and a nice fastball. I think he even developed a cutter while under Mariano. He has not allowed a run in 11 innings pitched while striking out 18 batters this season. Soriano, on the other hand, has allowed two runs in nine innings pitched while striking out eight and earning two wins.
With this injury and Mariano’s age (he turned 42 this year), who knows if we will ever see Mo again. That is a sad scenario to think of. The greatest closer in history, ending his career shagging fly balls before a game. That would be a shame. It would be a loss for not only the Yankees, but Major League Baseball as well. Joe Girardi originally said that Rivera would go back to New York to be looked at by team doctors (after being looked at by Royals doctors), but Rivera said during the interview that he would stay in Kansas City to be with his teammates. I personally hope Rivera makes it back during the season at some point, but it’s highly unlikely.
Just to take a look at what the Yankees will be losing with Rivera going down:
- 608 Saves – 1st all-time amongst closers
- 2.21 Era – 1st all-time amongst closers
- 1,119 Strikeouts – 1st all-time amongst closers
- 42 Postseason saves – 1st all-time amongst closers
- 1,051 Appearances – 1st all-time amongst closers
The most important thing the Yankees lose is Rivera’s leadership and the intimidation factor he brings to the end of games. The Yankees knew this day would come, but not this way and not so soon.