There have been 23 postseason saves of at least two innings since 1996, and Mariano Rivera has recorded 14 of them. That includes his last three in the World Series and, most recently, Game 6 of this year’s ALCS against the Angels.
It is not hard to see why Rivera is asked to do so much – now, in particular, the Yankees options in the eighth inning aren’t nearly as comfortable as simply giving the ball to Rivera a little sooner, and so that’s what Joe Girardi has been doing. The question is, will it ultimately hurt him?
Rivera is 39 years old and threw 39 pitches last night, most he’s ever thrown in a World Series game. He says he’s ready to go again in Game 3 and beyond, but he also didn’t look untouchable on the mound; he walked Jimmy Rollins and put two men on in the eighth, then gave up a double in the ninth before getting out if it.
Could the work be affecting Rivera’s effectiveness? Rivera says no and says he’ll be ready when needed.
“You know what you have and what you can do,” Rivera said. “It’s always difficult to pitch in those situations, but you have to do your job.”
He has done it, maybe even a little too well. It’s understandably hard for Girardi to trust Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain right now, so the best way to get to Rivera is to have him setup for himself. Can he do it for three more wins? That remains to be seen.
“He’s special. Nobody does what he does,” Derek Jeter said. “He wants to win, and he’ll do whatever it takes. If someone wanted him to start, he’d go out there and start. He’s unique, once-in-a-lifetime.”