Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi is undecided on who will close games with David Robertson on the 15-day disabled list. Well, undecided may be putting it lightly because it seems that Girardi has absolutely no idea who’ll fill in for Mariano Rivera‘s replacement. Robertson is likely to miss only the minimum of 15 days, as his injury is diagnosed as a Grade-1 groin strain. Even though this a low-level strain, the Bombers are in need of someone who is capable of finishing games. While this is not the end of the world, it reveals some big gaps in the Yankees’ post-Mo bullpen.
The Yankees have a few viable options already waiting in the bullpen, but almost none of them have any experience as a closer. Matt Thornton has compiled 23 saves over his 11-year career, but he’s become more of left-handed specialist as he’s gotten older. Shawn Kelley, who was serving as Robertson’s setup man, looks like he’ll get first crack at the job but the 30-year-old’s 3.70 career ERA is not too encouraging for someone who’ll have to pitch in high pressure situations. However, Kelley looked very good on Monday as he earned his first ever save against the Baltimore Orioles. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and even the recently recalled Cesar Cabral are all interim options in the 9th inning. But Phelps has struggled a bit (If 3 home runs allowed is a bit) so far out of the bullpen and the Yankees’ would probably prefer to use Adam Warren in a more expanded role as a long or middle reliever. Betances is also inexperienced but may have the ability to serve as a setup man if given the opportunity.
This is a hard decision for Joe Girardi, but he’ll have to make it. Hopefully Robertson will return soon and the Yankees won’t find themselves in an all out scramble for bullpen arms. People are going to have to step up and prove they’re worth their spot on the roster or the Yankees will have to search elsewhere for some much needed bullpen depth. Girardi has a decision to make and it’s going to need to pay off if the team is going to compete.