Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history.
However, had it not been for the New York Yankees moving Rivera to the bullpen in 1995, we might not have ever seen Rivera become what he is today.
Originally a starter when he came up, Rivera made 10 starts that year and had an abysmal 5.94 ERA and 1.680 WHIP.
He did have some flashes of brilliance during a start against the Chicago White Sox, though:
His eight-inning, 11-strikeout performance against the White Sox will go down as his best start, but it's largely forgotten because of a game log like this:
|May 23||at California||3.1||8||5||5||3|
|May 28||at Oakland||5.1||7||1||1||3|
|June 6||vs. Oakland||4.0||7||7||3||1|
|June 11||vs. Seattle||2.1||7||4||0||1|
|July 4||at Chicago||8.0||2||0||11||4|
|July 9||at Texas||6.0||6||3||2||0|
|July 16||vs. Minnesota||6.0||6||1||5||1|
|July 26||at Kansas City||5.0||7||3||3||1|
|Aug. 10||vs. Cleveland||5.2||7||4||3||3|
|Sept. 5||vs. Seattle||4.1||7||5||5||3|
He did go 3-3 in those starts, which isn't all that bad, but it was clear then that his future wasn't as a starter.
Now, compare the mechanics and the movement with this video, which is a compilation of his highlights as a reliever:
Rivera clearly has had great mechanics for a reliever during his career. Not to mention, he could just rear back with all he had, instead of saving energy for later innings.
While he did struggle in most of his starts, the 11-strikeout performance showed that Rivera could be something one day. I just don't think the Yankees actually knew what that would be.
Then again, I don't think anyone saw him having the type of career he has after seeing the way it all began.
Could you imagine the Yankees without Rivera? Would they have won five World Series?
It's a good thing we'll never have to know the answer to that question.