Mo’s start to this season has been pretty brutal. After a brilliant Spring Training, Mo has thrown 11.1 innings this season and allowed 15 hits, with 4 of them being home runs. I’d like to assign some blame for the HRs being the new stadium, but the other two happened in Detroit and Fenway. We all know his velocity is down a few ticks and he’s coming off shoulder surgery. Is this one of his annual blips on the radar, or at 39 years old the beginning of the end?
John over at Pinstripe Alley has a piece up, discussing this:
In the post game show tonight on YES, Joe Girardi admitted that Mariano Rivera’s surgically repaired shoulder has been bothering him for a while now. He said it wasn’t a major issue, but that it just seems to be a little tired which is affecting his velocity. Say, what? Is he kidding me?
A depressed Rivera said afterwards that his shoulder isn’t really hurting him, but that his velocity is down. Is it me or are their stories not quite on the same page? Even if Mo never gets back to 94 mph and he still might, Rivera has good enough stuff, fight and control to be very effective.
I don’t think there’s as huge a gap between the two stories as he does, but he goes on to explain why he’s sick of Girardi, so I take it he has an axe to grind. But I agree that even if Mo sits at 90-91, he can still be effective. Look at KC’s Joakim Soria for an example there. His control is still impeccable, he’s yet to walk a batter this year. Most MLB pitchers throw cutters in the high 80′s, so even at 91 he still has a plus offering. But if his velocity is diminished, he can’t throw all cutters anymore. He’ll have to mix in more 2-seamers and 4 seamers and possibly dust off the changeup for swings and misses here and there. He’ll have to frame the cutters between other pitches to keep hitters off balance.
I think he’ll be fine, but at this point in his career he also may need to adjust his routine. He may simply need to throw more. Kay said on the broadcast last night that he usually doesn’t throw between outings,that he just gets in some throws playing CF during batting practice. Coming off surgery with his velocity down, some extra work might help. But at his age you have to wonder when the end is near.
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