Mariano Rivera has been as consistent a player as any in professional sports. His prowess in the playoffs is simply unmatched by all challengers. While every year there seems to be a hot new closer that everyone is in love with, the New York Yankees' not-so-secret weapon has been terrorizing opposing hitters for years.
In the past month, however, Rivera has looked decidedly mortal. He has blown three saves this month, as well as an ERA that is a very un-Rivera-like, 5.04, which nearly triple his career average. Despite these facts, it should not cause concern for Yankee fans anywhere.
The last time he blew three saves in a month was in August of 2004. He simply fails less than anyone else at his position, ever. That being said, he still isn't perfect. He's bound to blow saves and, once every six seasons or so, they come in bunches.
Along with rarely giving up many saves in a given time period, the man just might be made of steel. He has been to the disabled list only four times in his 16-year career, the most recent coming in 2003. He still throws 92-93 MPH and shows no signs of physically wearing down.
His consistency physically is due to the lifestyle he leads. He's never been back-page material for the New York Post and, by all accounts, leads a very quiet, sober lifestyle. Hard-partying may have been the bane of other closers in the past, but it's of no concern for Rivera.
It hardly seems necessary to speculate if he is still possesses the same mental toughness. He is never rattled even in the most pressure-packed postseason situations. He has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, with a blown World Series Game 7 to his record. His even temper will never waver.
His postseason numbers add up to over a season's worth of dominance. In 88 games, he has rang up eight wins against only one loss, with 39 saves. Not to mention his minuscule 0.74 ERA. Rivera was built to pitch in the bright lights of New York in October.
To ensure that he continues his dominance, Joe Girardi must never use Rivera in the eighth inning. Despite the fact that Rivera has a record 14 career postseason, two inning saves, those days are behind him. He must be carefully guarded to ensure that when the ninth inning rolls around, the opponent will be all but doomed.
Rivera is a human superlative. Not enough could possibly be said about the scope of his dominance, especially in the postseason. That said, nobody should ever doubt River or think he is "finished". With nine career postseason series clinching saves and 558 regular season saves to his record, he's earned the benefit of the doubt.