After Mariano Rivera retired, the ninth inning door was officially reopened. David Robertson was the Yankees’ man to both close said door and close out opponents. Halfway through 2014, Robertson could not be pitching much better.
Despite a brief DL stint, the new closer has 22 saves. He has a decent ERA (2.84), but a ridiculous FIP (1.79). For those unfamiliar with FIP, the statistic measures ERA, but without fielders factoring into the new ERA total. In other words, the Yankee defense is costing Robertson a full run, and he is still a top closer. Furthermore, Robertson has an ERA+ of 142, and 57 batters have fallen victims to a strike three call.
For a 17th round stick figure, Robertson has far outperformed expectations (and his brother, who pitched nine career games over 2007 and 2008). If anything, Robertson stature resembles Mariano Rivera: both slender and unintimidating on the mound. No one will ever confuse Robertson with Jonathan Broxton, which in some ways helps the NY closer. He has deceptive velocity considering, and Robertson’s smarts help him immensely.
Plus, Brian McCann deserves credit for easing Robertson into the role. This scenario isn’t new to the veteran catcher, however; McCann broke in current Braves closer and All-Star Craig Kimbrel. McCann still needs to play a little better for his stats to justify his contract, but the catcher’s intangibles have certainly played a role in Robertson stellar season.
If the Yankees played better than .500 ball, Robertson would surely have more saves. Granted, first time All-Star Dellin Betances has been a superb bridge to the ninth to limit any possible mid-to-late game drama, but Robertson has quieted all the offseason skeptics.