The Trouble with Mariano

What’s up with our closer? The Weblog that Derek Built posits a few explanations for Mo’s difficulty with the Sox: bad luck, injury, emotional trauma stemming from the deaths in his electrified pool (!), not yet in form following shortened spring training. One possibility missing from TWTDB’s list—and the one we find most scare: the gradual diminution of ability that comes with age. Well, now. It’s a bit early to be falling back on that one, though it is worth noting that his bb/k ratio fell from 2003 to 2004, and he’s been having profressively more trouble with lefties. For the moment, however, we’re just going to hope (and assume) Mariano finds his control and his cutter begins to cut….and the sooner the better.

5 comments… add one
  • I think the Sox just have his number. Any pitcher can be figured out, given enough time. While Rivera has a lot of pitches that can flat out get guys out, as a closer people just don’t see enough of him to adjust. Over time, this advantage diminishes as players become accustomed to what he can do.

    Mike April 9, 2005, 12:10 pm
  • YF is a bit late on this one. I’ll refer him back to a post midway through spring training, written by a Red Sox fan, no less.
    http://yanksfansoxfan.typepad.com/ysfs/2005/03/closer_to_the_e.html

    SF April 9, 2005, 1:03 pm
  • Mo’s statistics against the Sox are startling, but the two games this year may be more a result of early season struggles than part of a bigger picture with the Sox.
    Mo hurt his arm in Spring Training, and did not throw as much as he would have otherwise. It’s possible that he got his arm strength up but didn’t throw enough to get control of his cutter before the season started. A few more games should tell us. Look at the Unit yesterday, who was clearly having early season problems, with his fastball below average and his slider flat.
    On top of that, while the Sox are better against Mo than any other team, we might also have to give an asterisk to his ALCS performance last year. Why? After losing 3 straight and getting shellacked 19 to 8, the entire team played out of their heads for 7 games. Kudos to the Sox for what they did, but this is the same team that couldn’t beat the Yanks for first place for the season. But when they beat Mo they were hot, hot, hot.

    john massengale April 10, 2005, 11:42 am
  • PS: On the other side of the fence, Foulke and Embree are having the same early season problems as Mo, and they were unbeatable during those 7 games.

    john massengale April 10, 2005, 11:46 am
  • True enough, John. The big issue here is the bar set by Mariano. Foulke is a great closer (Alan Embrees come a dime a dozen, for the most part) but he’s still not in the same class as Rivera. Mo set the standard, and now he’s being compared to himself, fairly so I think.
    However, there’s not really a good reason to panic (or boo, for that matter) if you are a Yankees fan, but there’s certainly something new to think about – Mariano as a 35 year old. Early season woes may be part of, if not the only, problem. Time will tell.

    SF April 11, 2005, 2:59 pm

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