Mariano Rivera's blown saves: Is it time to worry about the greatest closer ever?

Mike Stobe

After a particularly uncharacteristic rough patch for the greatest closer ever, is it time for Yankees fans to worry about Mariano Rivera?

Before you leave the page, this article is not to thrash Rivera for his recent Carlos Marmolesque run. That being said, the question "Should we be worried?" will be raised and I'd like to prepare you to answer it.

Mariano Rivera is no doubt the greatest closer of all time and we as Yankees' fans are lucky to have him. However, these three blown saves will not suffice. We are a spoiled fan base. We boo when a guy who has hit 300 career home runs for us grounds into two double plays in a win. I love Mo just as much as the next guy, but we have got to ask if something is wrong.

Now, we know coming back from any injury is tough, especially a torn ACL at the age of 42. So we knew something would be different about the guy wearing 42 on his jersey. Then he had to come out and be 19 for his first 19 save opportunities and 35 for his first 37. We thought he was better than ever and didn't want him to retire when he was at his best. Then came these games. Three games that we want to forget but can't. Three games that were unlike any other in his career.

Let's take a look at a total line from these three blown saves: 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 HR all on 81 pitches. His ERA has risen from 1.56 to 2.44 in just a week. This shows us something we all needed to see: We were once again spoiled by some luck through most of the season that made us think Rivera was better than ever. Maybe the baseball gods thought we were getting too arrogant. Maybe they get mad when the opponents' fans cheer for our closer. We were given a reality check in the harshest way imaginable because when it comes down to it, we all should have seen a streak like this coming.

Rivera's 2013 season has been an odd one. The ups and downs, all the opponents' fans, lots of strange gifts and an ovation at a Boston steakhouse. He had everyone from Red Sox fans to Mets fans cheering for him. And he deserves every bit of it for the things he has accomplished over the last 19 years. So why should the Yankees organization be worried?

One word: statistics. Whether you are a believer in statistics or not, these do a great job of explaining Rivera's 2013 campaign. Let's start with strikeouts and home runs, the two things that a pitcher has the most control over. His strikeout percentage is at 22.3% for the year, the third lowest since 2000 for Rivera. Rivera has given up five homers on the year which comes out to exactly 1 HR/9, which is his highest since 1995 when he was used primarily as a starter. This brings his K/HR ratio to 8.2 for the season, also the lowest since '95. His K/HR in 2011 was 20.0 and 22.3 in 2010. Rivera's WHIP (1.19) and batting average against (.260) are both the highest of his career as a closer. Now as we go through all of this, I should also point out that Rivera's LOB% is the third highest of his career at an outstanding 87%. However, his blown saves have come against good hitters such as David Wright, Adam Jones, Adam Dunn and Miguel Cabrera. With the old Rivera, we never had to worry about who was coming up, but this year has now shown us that he isn't the Rivera of old. If and when runners get on against Rivera, we would really like to see the bottom of the order rather than the guys listed above.

So should we worry about Rivera's three blown saves? You tell me. I'm a full believer in this team and number 42. We just have to hope that his teammates, and a little bit of luck, will help send him off with a ring like he deserves.

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