David Robertson has been the definition of outstanding for the New York Yankees. In six seasons with the team, Robertson has compiled a win-loss record of 21-14, and a 2.76 ERA. He has 428 strikeouts during this time period. In 2011, Robertson got his big break when relief pitcher Rafael Soriano went down with an injury. He was called upon to become the Yankees setup man; their bridge to the great Mariano Rivera… and boy did he deliver. Robertson finished that season with a record of 4-0, lead the league with a 1.08 ERA, lead the league in holds (34), and led the league with 100 strikeouts, becoming the first Yankee reliever since Mariano did it in 1996 to record 100 strikeouts in a single season. Those numbers alone tell you all you need to know about how dominant he was. He was SO dominant in fact, that he was named to his first ever All-Star team, replacing Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price on the roster. When Soriano returned from his injury, Robertson remained the setup man. He received exactly one point in the voting for both the AL Cy Young Award (the only non-starter or non-closer with a vote) and AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award (the only reliever with a vote). Robertson also won the This Year in Baseball Setup Man of the Year Award.
While he didn’t finish 2012 or 2013 anywhere close to the level he pitched at in 2011, he was still a terrific setup man, finishing 2012 with a lackluster record of 2-7, but finishing with a 2.67 ERA, and 81 strikeouts, and finishing 2013 with a 5-1 record, an ERA od 2.04, and finishing with 77 strikeouts. Now, with the great Mariano Rivera, the man who had been the rock for the Yankees for almost the last two decades retiring from MLB, there is the big question that everyone has been wondering since he burst onto the scene in 2011…is David Robertson ready to step up and take over the role of the closer for the New York Yankees?
I, like most people, believe he is ready. While the Yanks have yet to confirm that Robertson will be their closer in 2014, team owner Hal Steinbrenner has given Robertson his endorsement. “We’re going to rely on [David] Robertson. I’m sure he’ll do a good job for us.” Steinbrenner told the New York Post. While Hal, like many Yankees fans, may want Robertson as the closer, it will likely be up to manager Joe Girardi in making that decision. So will Girardi make Robertson the new closer? There is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t. Not only is he the Yankees best option, but he is a darn good one at that. However, when Rivera went down in 2012, Robertson was given a few opportunities to close, and didn’t look nearly as cool and collected in the ninth as he usually does in the eighth. That is why even though I do think that he deserves the chance to close, I also think that it would be in the Yankees’ best interest to sign some insurance, just in case Robertson does falter. Maybe someone like a Grant Balfour? But whether they do sign some insurance or not, we know “Houdini” has heard the rumors the last couple of years, and knows that this is his time to shine.
The pressure of succeeding the legendary Mariano Rivera as closer of the biggest name franchise in the history of professional sports will be immense. While there will obviously never again be anyone like Mo, there is no doubt in my mind that Robertson is ready for this, and that he is going to make one heck of a closer!