Last night, David Robertson came into the game with two on and none out in the top of the seventh. He allowed neither inherited runner to score. After a sac bunt, he got a hard grounder from Bill Hall that didn’t get through a drawn in infield. After that, he did his normal D-Rob thing and struck Lars Anderson out with a low curveball. I want the Yankees–or the Player’s Union, whoever is in charge of this–to make a shirt with Dave’s face on it that says “Chicks Dig the Curveball.” If there was a mention of the high socks, that’d be cool too. Let’s look at the season for Robertson.
April was bad for Robertson. He gave up 10 hits in 5 innings (though he struck out 8 and walked just 1). His month was essentially ruined by two outings–0.1 IP, 4 R vs the Angels on the 13th and 0.1 IP, 2 R vs the Orioles on the 27th.
Since then, Robertson’s been very good. His ERA has been 3.11 in that time frame and he’s struck out 59 batters in 52.1 IP (10.19 per nine). The .342 OBPA is a bit high (5.00 BB/9) but the strikeouts help offset that. He’s also allowed just four homers from May on; he gave up just one in April so he’s done a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the park all season.
What’s been best about Robertson’s performance this year is that it’s been in mostly tough situations. Per Baseball-Reference, Robertson’s Average Leverage Index–1.0 is average, higher is more pressure, lower is less–was 1.25 this season. That’s second on the team to Mariano Rivera’s 2.06.
What we’ve seen from Robertson this year is incredibly important. Despite the walks, he’s proved himself adept at keeping runners from crossing the plate for the majority of the season. If a pitcher is going to walk a lot of batters there are a few things he must do: not allow a lot of hits, not allow a lot of homers, and strikeout a lot of batters. Robertson has been okay with the hits part–8.8 H/9 is okay, not great–but he’s been fantastic with keeping the ball in the park (0.8 HR/9) and striking batters out (10.5 K/9). What’s best about this performance is that he’s cheap.
David is under team control and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2012. A young, cheap reliever is something that can be incredibly cost-effective. Robertson should be next year’s primary “set up” man unless Kerry Wood takes a big time pay cut (which I wouldn’t mind one bit). If he can do so cheaply and effectively, I will love David Robertson and his high socks even more than he already does. Get him a seat next to Rivera in the bullpen, let him learn some control, and you could be looking at the Yankees’ post-Mariano closer. Robertson and his dynamite two pitch combo, abundance of strikeouts, and lack of home runs allowed should fill in admirably.
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