Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-09-18 18:06
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

SI's Tom Verducci still thinks Mariano Rivera is a top-flight closer:

Let's get something straight: Mariano Rivera is not a question mark for the New York Yankees. He may not be unhittable, as he was in the past, but he's still ultra cool in the clutch and still has plenty of the nasty stuff needed to get hitters out, if not dominate them. If you're looking for a reason why the Yankees are vulnerable -- and there are a few of them -- don't look to their closer.

...I wouldn't worry about Rivera. He may have lost a smidgen of velocity and sometimes lacks confidence in that high fastball hitters chase, but his stuff is still plenty good. The real problem is the rest of the Yankees' bullpen, which this year has forced manager Joe Torre to bring Rivera into numerous games in which runners are on base. The slender right-hander has such good mechanics and doesn't throw a lot of pitches, so I do think he has at least two more All-Star quality years left.

If indeed Rivera can put up two more All-Star seasons, will he have a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame? It's a tough one to figure simply because great closers like Sutter and Gossage have yet to be recognized. I keep thinking that once Eck is elected, the thinking on closers may change. I would guess that if Rivera continues to be very good in the regular season, and sensational in the postseason, he'd have a decent chance at making it into Cooperstown somewhere down the line.

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