Mariano Rivera is putting together an historic season. He is perfect in 26 save situations and has only given up one run and two walks over those 26. His control this year is astounding, though – surprisingly – not unprecedented. Of all the pitchers who have appeared in at least 25 games in a season, only one – Dennis Eckersley – has ever recorded a season with a double-digit K/BB ratio. Eckersley accomplished this incredible feat twice: first, with an 18.33 K/BB in 1989, a year in which he also recorded a 1.56 ERA in 57.2 IP over 51 games; then again in his even more amazing 1990 season, during which he appeared in 62 games, pitched 72.1 innings, and compiled a 0.61 ERA with a K/BB of 18.25.
Mariano could become the second pitcher with at least 25 game appearances to ever go double-digits in K/BB. Currently his K/BB ratio is 14.25. Second on the list for 2008 is Papelbon at 7.71. Mariano’s weakness this year (by weak I only mean relative to the rest of his masterpiece season) has been non-save situations and, especially, tie games:
- Save situations: 26 G, 27.1 IP, 12 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 33 SO, 0 HR, 0.33 ERA
- Non-save sitn’s: 17 G, 20 IP, 16 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 24 SO, 3 HR, 2.70 ERA
If opponents ever have to see Mo, they’d prefer to do it in tie games and to get to him early. Opponents bat .324 off of Mo in tie games this year and 2 of his 4 walks and 2 of the 3 HRs he has yielded have come in tie games (the third HR came in last night’s O’s game when the Yanks were already down by 3, though it turned out to be a big one as the Yanks 3-run rally in the bottom of the 9th fell one run short of tying the game). With 0 outs batters hit .302 off him. With 1 out they drop to .132 and with 2 outs .041.
Mo’s 1.33 ERA ranks second to Joe Nathan’s 1.24 (Nathan doing even better than I realized) and his 0.676 WHIP ranks first. There have been many honorific Mo-posts and they don’t necessarily lead to much discussion, but what can I say – I like pausing periodically to honor the man.