Mariano Rivera: 1,000 Games for the New York Yankees and Counting

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIMay 26, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 18:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 18, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Yesterday, when Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays, he became the first pitcher to ever appear in 1,000 games for the same team and the 15th pitcher overall to accomplish the feat.

In those 1,000 games, Mo has pitched in 1,171 innings, has struck out 1,068, has an ERA of 2.22, a WHIP of 1.002 and an ERA+ of 205 (these stats include 10 games as a starting pitcher).

To put those numbers in perspective; Trevor Hoffman appeared in 1,035 games and pitched 1,089.1 innings, struck out 1,133, had an ERA of 2.87, a WHIP of 1.058 and an ERA+ of 141 (the third-best ERA+ for all the pitchers with 1,000 or more games while the second-best is Hoyt Wilhelm's 147).

What makes Mo's accomplishment even more impressive is he's done it all with one pitch.  That one pitch is arguably the best pitch baseball has ever seen, a cut fastball.  Every hitter has known what pitch was coming, yet, even after 17 seasons they still can't hit it and it's still breaking bats.

People laugh when I say Mariano Rivera should be in the discussion for best pitcher ever regardless of reliever or starter.  I'm not saying he's the best (that honor would go to Pedro Martinez), but with what Mariano Rivera has done in his career, for the role he was put into, his name at least needs to be discussed.

It makes you wonder how different baseball and Yankees history would be if Mariano wasn't pitching the day the Yankees scout came down to sign his cousin Ruben Rivera (Mariano was initially a shortstop and was passed on by scouts the year before because he wasn't very good) or if he never had an arm injury that basically stopped him from being traded early in his career.

Congratulations Mariano on your latest milestone and here's to at least a couple more seasons of hearing Enter Sandman blare as you enter games to rack up yet another save.