Rivera’s Success Due to Low Innings Total?

Rivera’s Success Due to Low Innings Total?

Rivera’s Success Due to Low Innings Total?

The good folks at Baseball Think Factory linked up the comments I posted by Goose Gossage during his interview with WFAN’s Evan Roberts. In case you aren’t aware, Goose basically said that Rivera’s job was far easier than closers in his day. As a matter of fact, Goose called himself a “relief pitcher,” not a “closer,” since he had to pitch as many as 3 innings at a time.

A comment by someone with the handle RayDiPerna made some interesting points. Check it out:

Five Facts About Mariano Rivera:

1. He is a great short relief pitcher who never had a bad season.

2. He is a deserving Hall of Famer by the standards set out for relief pitchers.

3. He did not fare well in a very short stint as a starter in the majors.

4. He pitched a wildly low number of innings for a Hall of Famer. Only Sutter pitched fewer innings without outside circumstances intervening (as they did with, e.g., Paige).

5. He only had two managers, both who babied him to the greatest extent that could reasonably have been imagined, who set up the game situations for him to be as easy for him as possible, and who limited his workload across seasons and across multiple innings to an unprecedented degree for a non-LOOGY. Rivera arguably pitched under the most favorable circumstances of any major league pitcher who came before him or after him.

I am not sure the innings argument is fair when you are comparing Rivera to any modern day closer. There are a bunch of setup men/pitchers that closed for a brief period ahead of him. They include Roberto Hernandez, Jose Mesa, Julian Tavarez, and Tom Gordon. Every other closer from 1995 onward has less innings than Rivera. This includes Trevor Hoffman, who is easily the closest comparison when you talk about performance. John Franco pitched 21 seasons and only has 65 more innings to date. The early part of his career was pitched in the eighties, where closers still were expected to get more than three outs. Of course, Dennis Eckersley and Tony LaRussa changed that in 1987.

In short, relievers like Gossage, Lyle, and Fingers have a gripe about the utilization of the modern closer. Rivera just happens to be symbolic of the best, not an exception to any modern closer utilization.

By Mike Silva
Monday, 27 Jun 2011

Closer, Dennis Eckersley, John Franco, Jose Mesa, Julian Tavarez, Mariano Rivera, Rich Gossage, Roberto Hernandez, Rollie Fingers, Sparky Lyle, Tom Gordon, Tony LaRussa


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