Unless you're an active vampire working the mountains of Transylvania, or filming locations in Hollywood, all good things eventually come to an end. The cycle of life virtually guarantees it.
Even Mariano Rivera isn't immune.
Last year, at an age (41) when most players relish retirement, the esteemed stopper continued to mystify hitters in high-duress situations. He was 44-for-49 in save opportunities, notched a sleek 1.91 ERA — the eleventh time he finished a season with an ERA below 2.00 — and tallied a very respectable 8.80 K/9. Fantasy-wise, he finished fourth among closers in overall value according to Baseball Monster, familiar territory for arguably the greatest closer the game has ever produced. Visibly, there were no signs of him slowing down.
Rivera's consistency, longevity and sheer domination is remarkable considering he almost exclusively relies on one pitch, the cutter.
When on, his money-maker is the most feared pitch in baseball. Hitters of all backgrounds know it's coming. It's no clubhouse secret. Last year, he featured it 87.3 percent of the time. However, often times the offering is an unsolvable illusion. Houdini couldn't execute any better. Upon launch it takes on the appearance of a grapefruit — large, enticing, juicy. But by the time it pops the mitt, it resembles a grape, leaving its victims perplexed and demoralized.
Though the cutter has inflicted innings of pain over the past two decades, its effectiveness has slowly eroded. Fangraphs' pitch values measurement shows a gradual deterioration since 2008, a decline that could intensify this season.
Case in point, opening day in Tampa.Read More »from Noise: Is the fat lady warming up for Rivera?