RiveraMariano Rivera continues to add to his Hall of Fame legacy. At 41 years old Rivera has not lost a single step, leading the majors with 13 saves. In 18 appearances this season, Rivera has allowed a run just twice, and boasts a miniscule 0.45 WHIP at Yankee Stadium in 2011. His 1.53 ERA this year is also bringing down his career number of 2.22, good for tops among all pitchers with 1,000 innings in the Live Ball era (since 1920).
This season, Rivera has nine saves in which he did not allow a baserunner, a statistic Stats & Info has coined as a "Game Over" save. Rivera has three more than the next-highest pitcher in the Game Over saves index.
Game Over Index
Saves Without Allowing Baserunner
Rivera is allowing just five percent of batters faced to score, seven percent clear of the league average according to Inside Edge. As usual, his cutter has been doing most of the damage. He relies on his trademark pitch over 90 percent of the time with two strikes against a batter this season, and in those situations hitters are posting just a .194 average.
He’s also working on his 11th season with an ERA below 2.00, which would tie the mark set by the great Walter Johnson according to baseball-reference.com. Rivera is also just four shy of reaching 1,000 games for his career, something only 14 pitchers in baseball history can claim.
Astros Bullpen - This Season
No aspect of the Astros is particularly great this season, but the bullpen is certainly one of the glaring weaknesses. Houston has just five saves through Thursday, tied for the fewest in baseball. In contrast, the team already has nine blown saves. Astros relievers are also allowing a .300 batting average, by far the highest in the majors.
Brandon Lyon, now on the 15-day DL, has really struggled in relief this season. He has a WHIP over 2.10, and before going on the disabled list Lyon had allowed at least one earned run in four of his past five appearances. He has been extremely ineffective against lefties this year, allowing a .563 batting average and an OPS of 1.526.
Change of Pace
MadsonRyan Madson of the Philadelphia Phillies has dominated in his newfound role as closer. Between May 7 and Thursday, Madson has three saves in as many appearances and has given up just two hits and no walks. Madson has just a 0.60 ERA this season, and in his last three outings his changeup has been key. Against the pitch, hitters are swinging and missing a staggering 62.5 percent of the time.