Alongside many of the other issues that the New York Yankees will face, the role of the closer will deem to be the most challenging. Rafael Soriano, who has the option to opt out after this season, has been noted that his return to the Bronx may be questionable. Even the speculation of Mariano Rivera‘s return has been full of nothing but questions. This raises a giant red flag for the Yankees since they have always had a solid closer to turn to. Now with the realistic possibility of not having either Soriano or Rivera in 2013, where should the Yankees look? Is David Robertson the answer? How about bringing David Aardsma back to that role? What about signing a free agent in the offseason? This arduous task for the Yankees may be one of their biggest concerns as this is just one of the many questions facing the bullpen.
Now hopefully Soriano will have enough common sense to stay in New York, but money sometimes overtakes the thought process. For Mo however, coming back from an ACL tear at his age, since he will be 43 in November, isn’t exactly easy. Not to mention, Rivera has been skeptical of a return next year. So, while this list may not be perfect, it may be the few most realistic possibilities the Yankees will have to choose from.
Option One: David Robertson
Robertson was thought originally to be the closer once Mo went down in May. While taking over the closer role, Robertson only acquired one save while blowing three other opportunities. That said, Robertson’s role was only a temporary thing until the Yankees decided to go with Soriano. Now with the Yankees facing a 2013 possibly without Mo and Soriano, they very well may have to use Robertson even though it would be an entirely new role for him.
This season, Robertson has 26 holds and really does well as set-up man. Don’t acknowledge his 1-7 record because for relievers, records really mean nothing. His 2.79 ERA has been impressive and the fact that he’s struck out 68 batters in 51.2 innings is by far nothing to scoff at.
Is he the best option? Maybe, maybe not. However, Robertston’s talent cannot be overlooked and even if he has a few bad outings, you have to stick with him. Closers just don’t become legends over night, it takes work.
Option Two: David Aardsma
The biggest issue for Aardsma is if he can stay healthy. When he can, he can be lights out like he was in 2009 and 2010 with the Seattle Mariners. Before becoming a closer, Aardsma found his place in the MLB as a middle relief guy, much like Robertson. However, that role for Aardsma soon changed.
In 2009, Aardsma acquired 38 saves while only blowing four. In 2010, Aardsma picked up 31 saves and only blew five on the season. While he is a bit of a gamble to pitch due to his arm coming off of Tommy John surgery, he still may be a solid candidate for the job.
Aardsma has also been a strikeout machine in the closer role, striking out 129 batters in 121 innings in his two years with Seattle. The only real concern about him is his amount of walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 2.35 in 2009 but later went down to 1.96 in 2010. That said, Aardsma will be the only person in this bullpen in 2013 with vast closer experience if everything were to fall into place.
Option Three: Boone Logan
Logan may not even be considered for this role at all being one of the few lefties that Joe Girardi has. Despite that though, if the Yankees keep Justin Thomas and Clay Rapada, they will still have two left-handers in the bullpen. Logan may get the closer role because he’s had a few years experience with the Yanks under his belt.
In 2012, Logan has been primarily used as a match-up pitcher and will occasionally pitch an inning whenever Girardi sees fit. He does have one save this season alongside 20 holds. July was by far his worst month in which he had a 9.96 ERA, but he has rebounded nicely for the Yankees holding a season 3.86 ERA alongside 61 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched.
A left-handed closer isn’t inconceivable as there are two current pitching this season, Minnesota’s Glen Perkins and San Francisco’s Javier Lopez. The thing is, many lefties, Logan included, are just used for match-ups and might otherwise get hit hard if they stay in too long. That may or may not be the case with Logan, but we won’t know unless the Yankees try it.
Option Four: Free Agency
This option is by far not the most ideal one, but it is still on the table regardless. The biggest relief free agent, at least in my mind, would be Texas’ Mike Adams. During his time with San Diego, Adams was primarily a set-up man for Heath Bell and then was eventually traded to Texas to set-up for Joe Nathan. Adams has a career 2.23 ERA, 135 holds, four saves and has struck out 360 batters in 360 innings pitched.
Now while I don’t really support option four, it still could work, especially with some of these guys who are going to free agents. The Yankees have been a smart team lately with making moves (the Michael Pineda trade aside) and maybe they’ll see something in one of these closers.
Hopefully the Yankees can strike some sort of deal with Soriano in the off-season. If not, these may very well be the options that Yanks will have heading into next season.