“I think I’ve got the stuff to do it,’’ Robertson told the NY Post Saturday at a charity event. “It’s just a matter of coming out there and doing it. It’s the same thing as throwing the eighth inning. You got to get three outs, but there is no one behind you.’’
For the past few seasons, Robertson has been sitting in the bullpen with Rivera, leading the way for Mo to come into the game in the 9th inning to do his thing. Now that Rivera is gone, someone has to step up and take his place. Not only should Robertson be the top choice, but he deserves to be the top choice.
He’s been one of the best setup men in the game over the past few years, and one of the best relief pitchers overall. He was an All-Star in 2011 when he posted a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances, and should have been in 2013 when his ERA was 2.04 in 70 games.
But the Yankees haven’t been treating him this winter as if he is capable of the job. Not only have they been reportedly interested in signing any one of the top free-agent closers on the market, but general manager Brian Cashman has even said publicly that he’s unsure if Robertson is the right man for the job.
“I’m not sure Robertson is capable yet.” Cashman said back in November. “He’s never done that before. I think he’s earned the right to take a shot at it.’’
He is capable, and he has earned the right. If he can’t handle it, then — and only then — should the Yankees try to sign someone else.
“I definitely want the opportunity,” Robertson said to The Post. “Everyone has to realize though that I’m not Mo, so I’m just going to be me. I felt like I learned as much as I could from Mo. I stuck to his side like glue last year. Hopefully some of it sunk in. Mo’s consistency is what sticks with me — on and off the field he’s the same guy.’’
One thing a lot of fans and general people talk about is how the Yankees aren’t producing talent from their farm system anymore. Many focus on the busts of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, but they fail to realize that they have Robertson, who, despite some shaky showings in the past, is already having a more successful stay in the Bronx than Chamberlain, who just signed a deal with the Detroit Tigers.
“Nothing’s ever been handed to me.” said Robertson. “I’ve had to earn every position I’ve had with the Yankees. If it’s not given to me next year, I can still be an effective pitcher in the eighth inning and still help us win ballgames.’’
It might not be given to him, because nothing in this game is just given to players, but he deserves to be first in line for the job. It should be his job to lose, not his to win. And he’s right, I also think he can help win this team win a lot games next season — preferably in the closer role.