Mariano Rivera, who turned 41 on Monday, has continued to defy age. Every year since turning 35, he has pitched fewer innings than he did the year before. Starting in 2004, Rivera’s innings have gone from 78 2/3 to 78 1/3 to 75 to 71 1/3 to 70 2/3 to 66 1/3 to 60.
Rivera pitches less often, but when he does pitch, he is basically as effective as always. He has stayed strong enough to dominate in the postseason, allowing just one run in 28 innings over the Yankees’ last four appearances.
…There are no comparable players to Rivera. The closest is Hoffman, the only pitcher with more career saves than Rivera’s 559. But Hoffman has had two seasons with an earned run average less than 2.00; Rivera has had 10. Rivera has logged more innings in fewer games, and the workload of roughly two extra seasons across all those Octobers.
Okay, we can now go back to fretting about Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee (for the record, I say the Yanks start the season with all three–four, including Rivera–on the roster).