After taking a bite out of Mark Teixeira, the injury bug has struck again and this time it’s taken out the Yankees’ closer, David Robertson. Robertson has been diagnosed with a Grade-1 groin strain and was transferred to the 15-day disabled list shortly after today’s win over the Baltimore Orioles. GM Brian Cashman has stated that the injury is minor and is expected to miss only the minimum of 15 days. While the Yankees will be without their closer for a solid chunk of time, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Over the course of 15 days, the Yankees won’t be finding themselves in need of a closer all that often. They’ll be days when they crush other teams and days they’ll be crushed. So odds are that while D-Rob will be missed, it won’t hurt the team as much as it seems. So, what the Yankees will need is someone to fill in when a save opportunity does come up and right now that guy is Shawn Kelley.
Kelley has been serving as the setup man before Robertson went down. Manager Joe Girardi brought in Kelley to close out the game and he did so by retiring Matt Wieters, Nelson Cruz and Steve Lombardozzi in order. He held his own against two of Baltimore’s biggest sluggers and passed the eye test by looking very effective on the mound. While a lot of people are iffy on Shawn Kelley’s ability to close in high pressure situations he seems like he’ll do just fine serving as the interim closer while Robertson is on the mend. Girardi said that David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno will be in the mix for saves but Kelly is his first choice and will get the bulk of the opportunities.
The Yankees must now fill a roster spot and are expected to call up either right-handed pitcher Shane Greene or lefty hurler Cesar Cabral. Both pitchers opened some eyes in spring training and Cashman will likely take some time to decide who’ll take the spot. Bringing up Cabral would give the Yankees three left-handed relievers which is a real luxury for a team and adds so much flexibility for Joe Girardi out of the ‘pen. Shane Greene’s inexperience in the majors may work against him as Cabral has had a few cups of coffee with the big league team during September call-ups.
Cabral and Greene’s Spring Training Numbers:
Cesar Cabral: 10 Games, 9.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 10 K’s
Shane Greene: 6 Games, 7.2 IP, 4.70 ERA, 10 K’s
Early out of the gate the Yankees’ bullpen has been a major asset for the team despite a lot of question marks. Pitchers Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and David Phelps are all expected to see an expanded role in the bullpen until Robertson returns. While D-Rob’s absence is a blow to the Yankees, his groin strain is a low grade (lowest grade to be exact) injury and will be back shortly. Shawn Kelley really stepped it up today against a tough team and I don’t see a reason why he can’t continue to be an effective fill-in for Robertson. The Yankees are not without options in this situation and Bomber fans should breathe easy because this injury is not the end of the Yankees’ season by any means.