Yankee fans have done a lot of worrying this year. Certainly more than in recent years. We worry about Derek Jeter's ankle and his quad, Curtis Granderson and his broken wrist and pinkie, CC Sabathia and his reduced velocity and Mark Teixeira and his severely injured wrist.
One thing, however, that we have not had to worry about in the slightest is Mariano Rivera. He has handled his final season, and all the attention that has come with it, with his typical aplomb. His performance on the season has been stellar as he has compiled 35 saves and 41 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. His season ERA stands at 2.44.
Over his past three appearances, however, Rivera just hasn't been himself. He has blown saves in each one and his ERA jumped from 1.56 to 2.44 in the process as he allowed 5 ER and had only 2 strikeouts across three innings. This is the first time in his illustrious career that Rivera has had a stretch of three blown saves. In the two blown saves against Detroit he was victimized both times by the long ball with Miguel Cabrera hitting one in each game. There's no shame in giving up a homerun to arguably the best player in baseball. Still, it was a harsh reminder to Yankees fans that Rivera is, after all, human.
But is he someone we fans need to worry about? Are these three blown saves the start of a trend? Are we getting an early glimpse of what the post Rivera future holds: sitting on the edge of our seats hoping that the closer can get the job done and save a much needed win?
Is Mariano Rivera now just another worry point?
No. At least not in my opinion and not yet. It's possible that day will come this season. If Rivera blows three or four more saves in a row, if he's not striking out batters and splintering bats for the next few appearances, then my answer may change.
But right now Rivera is not a cause for concern. Not even close. There's a reason that Rivera is being celebrated in every road city he goes to and, eventually, at home. There's a reason fans of opposing teams rise in unison and give him standing ovations when he runs in from the bullpen even though his appearance most likely means their home team is losing. That reason is respect, well-earned respect. Respect for his bat breaking ability, his infamous cutter and his calm demeanor.
It will take more than a rough three game stretch to erase that history. So worry, yes, about Phil Hughes's next start in Yankee Stadium, Alfonso Soriano's streakiness and Andy Pettitte's inability to go long in games. But not about Mo Rivera. He'll be fine.