Today, the New York Yankees received what they believe to be one of their pieces for the starting rotation in Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees have other needs to fill, but some of those needs are likely to be filled internally. This includes the void left at the closer spot due to the retirement of Mariano Rivera.
In an article written by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Hal Steinbrenner said for the first time publicly that David Robertson will be the closer when the 2014 season begins. According to Steinbrenner:
“Robertson is going to be our closer, and I believe he will do a good job. We have done a lot to improve our team and we just have to understand that you cannot be perfect everywhere.”
There are plenty of closers out there on the market, including Grant Balfour, but the Yankees seem to think that Robertson is ready to take over the role. The article mentions J.J. Putz and Huston Street as possible trade options. Last year, Robertson had his best season in terms of ERA (2.04) and WHIP (1.040). The Yankees can also be flexible in terms of finding players in free agency who can help fill out the rest of the bullpen, including the possibility of signing a closer to be their 8th inning man.
Yes, Robertson has been dominant as the set-up man, but the Yankees feel that his stuff, including his devastating curveball can lead to success in the 9th inning. Most people point to the week in 2012 where Robertson blew three saves before Rafael Soriano took the job. You have to remember that he didn’t have time to prepare for the role after the sudden shock that Rivera’s season was done due to a torn ACL. At the very least, the Yankees want to see what D-Rob can do in a larger sample size.
Robertson has spent the offseason preparing for the closer role and time to prepare could be a good thing for the Yankees in this case. It definitely won’t be “Enter Sandman”, but Sweet Home Alabama could be the new mantra that makes Yankees’ fans feel somewhat relieved at the end of the games. This is as long as Robertson’s Houdini Act is toned down to a degree.
The first glimpse of Robertson closing will come in the spring. Get your New York Yankees spring training tickets here.