Mariano Rivera blew his third save in September in New York’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox, giving up two runs — and four stolen bases — in the ninth inning.
Rivera has a 5.06 ERA in 10 appearances in September, his worst month since April of 2007, when he had a 10.57 ERA.
It could simply be an aberration for the greatest closer of all time. His overall ERA in 2010 is a sparkling 1.58, and he has just two other blown saves the entire season.
But at 40 years old, you have to ask the obvious question: Is Mariano Rivera running out of gas?
The Yankees sure hope he isn’t. Primed for another postseason run, New York will rely on Rivera to get big outs in the ninth inning — and sometimes the eighth, too — in just about every game.
Rivera is, without a doubt, the greatest closer in the history of October baseball and the last guy the opposing team wants to see on the mound when trailing in a game. With a microscopic 0.74 ERA in the postseason to go along with 39 saves — most all time — nothing fazes Rivera in pressure situations.
But he might be wearing down, and it’s happening at the wrong time for New York, a team with arguably more problems than any other AL playoff team.
The Yankees’ starting pitching, past CC Sabathia, is atrocious. Their offense always sets the pace for the rest of the league, but Mark Teixeira has two nagging injuries and Derek Jeter, another aging Bronx Bomber, is struggling at the dish.
That is why Rivera needs to be his usual self in the 2010 postseason if the Yankees want to have a chance of repeating as World Series champions.
In 2009, manager Joe Girardi called on his closer for 12 of the team’s 15 postseason games. Rivera pitched more than one inning in five of those outings.
It should be more of the same this year. That is, if Rivera’s arm doesn’t fall off first.
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