Every once in awhile, even Mariano "602" Rivera needs a day off. Who were the Yankees non-Mo closers from 1997 to 2011? Finding out requires a journey through the transient bullpen-dwellers of yesteryear.
Rivera made several trips to the disabled list in 2003 with shoulder and groin strains—it was the only season to date in which he has had to be shut down for an extended time (however, there have been myriad day-to-day situations in the years since). There wasn’t a great deal that was closer-like about Acevedo except that he had finished some games for a very bad Tigers team the year before. Acevedo didn’t do a particularly good job, was released in June, and was out of the majors after that season. So much for the closer’s mentality.
Veras is still wandering about the big leagues, striking out and walking too many National Leaguers. It’s easy to forget that he ever existed, even though he was a rare free-talent acquisition by Brian Cashman that sorta-kinda paid off, but he’s actually been decent for the Marlins and Pirates the last two seasons.
Not to be confused with Rupert Holmes, the guy who wrote "The Piña Colada Song" and Where the Truth Lies, Holmes was a former Rockies closer who didn’t have a great deal left by the time he reached the Yankees—there was a last-gasp season with the Braves, complete with some excellent post-season pitching, four years later. Again, "closer experience" should probably be treated like "reality show experience." Both are like Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame.
Not a name I would have guessed, even having watched the games at the time. These were both four-inning saves, the starters (David Cone and Randy Keisler) having been pulled after five innings.
It depressed me just to type that last one. As with Gooden, these were long saves after the starters (David Wells and Orlando Hernandez) got the early hook. Thanks to the peculiarities of working for the Yankees, Joe Torre was the first manager in decades to have to deal with a staff swollen with defrocked starters. This was his solution—well, that and throwing Weaver into World Series games he had no business pitching.
Among the remaining dozen, Scott Proctor (for all those appearances, he closed just once), Sergio Mitre (is there nothing he can’t do? Guy is like Superman), Chris Hammond, Paul Quantrill, and Dan Miceli, more established relievers who showed that experience is no insulation from failure when it comes to recruiting second-line pitching.