Tag: David Robertson

Pitchers MLB Teams Should Consider Selling in Suddenly Weak Market

This MLB offseason offered little in terms of impact pitchers. And as we look to round third base on it, any that were available are now off the market.

The big three closers—Mark Melancon (San Francisco Giants), Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)—all signed with teams. The Chicago White Sox sent starting pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, and the Kansas City Royals shipped closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs.

It has left the market for pitchers looking like August in Death Valley.

No need to look toward a higher power for rain here. All it takes is a few willing executives to reinvigorate the pitching market. Given the climate, that may be advantageous for those holding pitching talent.

Let’s take a look at some pitchers MLB teams should consider selling. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Hottest Reports as 2016 Deadline’s End Approaches

Only a few days remain before the MLB trade deadline Monday. Yet there are probably still a couple front offices around the league surveying the market and the tight-knit playoff race to determine whether they should be buyers or sellers leading up to Aug. 1.

Those on the fringe may ultimately lean toward selling. Since there are so many teams with a legitimate chance at the postseason thanks to the presence of two wild-card spots, there are a select number of teams already looking toward the future and thus willing to part with major league talent.

With that in mind, let’s check out some of the latest rumors from around the league. That includes a breakdown of what the potential deals would mean for the players and teams involved.


Matt Moore Likely on the Move

Moore isn’t yet all the way back to the level he reached before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. In his final full season before the major injury setback, he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 150.1 innings to emerge as a legitimate ace.

He’s posted a 4.08 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 21 starts so far this season. While those numbers are nothing special, they represent plenty of improvement from his limited action last year. Yet despite the progress, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported there’s a good chance the Tampa Bay Rays will trade him by Monday:

He could represent a nice value buy for a contender. Not only are his stats trending in the right direction, but his velocity is right in line with where it was before the arm problems, with his fastball capable of reaching the mid-90s, according to FanGraphs.

At 27, Moore should also be entering his peak seasons at the same time he gets all the way back to full strength. If he can rediscover his command down the stretch, he’d be a perfect mid-rotation addition for a championship hopeful.


David Robertson Available as Teams Seek Bullpen Help

A lot of high-profile relief pitchers could find new homes before Monday. Help in the final three innings seems like the one thing just about every team could use. Robertson is one of the latest players who fits the bill to pop up in the rumor mill.

The Chicago White Sox closer hasn’t been quite as effective this season. His 4.25 ERA is the highest mark since his rookie campaign. So, while he’s still converted 24 of 28 save chances, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported he could be on the move:

The biggest key for him getting back in top form for the final months is control. His walk rate has jumped from 1.85 last season to 4.68 during the current campaign. That’s the main reason his ERA has increased, and it could give interested teams some pause.

That said, the demand for quality relievers far outweighs the supply right now. So the White Sox should still be able to acquire a couple promising assets from a desperate team like the Washington Nationals if they do decide to move Robertson.


Price Tag High on Ervin Santana

Santana seems like the prototypical trade candidate. He’s a veteran starting pitcher with a strong track record and is enjoying a solid season, posting a 3.78 ERA through 19 starts. Add in the fact the Minnesota Twins have one of the worst records in baseball, and it’d make sense to deal him.

Apparently, they aren’t eager to send him packing with an eye toward the future, though. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Twins are planning to keep the 33-year-old right-hander unless another team blows their socks off with an offer before Monday:

Maybe putting that idea out there is merely Minnesota’s way of trying to drum up interest in Santana. Even though Spotrac notes he’s under contract through 2019, he’ll be far removed from his peak by the time the Twins are ready to make a serious charge up the standings.

So it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he does end up getting traded before the deadline. He’s not a top-tier starter a contending team would want to lean heavily on during the final months, but he’s more than capable of filling a No. 3 or No. 4 role to bolster a rotation.


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David Robertson Signing Pushes White Sox 1 Step Closer to Contention

If it wasn’t clear after the additions of Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche, it’s definitely clear after the latest addition:

The Chicago White Sox are going for it in 2015.

While most of the buzz on the rumor mill Monday night had the White Sox nearing a trade with the Oakland A’s for Jeff Samardzija, they ended up completing a different deal first. As reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the White Sox have a new closer in the person of David Robertson:

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the now-former New York Yankees closer’s contract with the White Sox is worth $46 million.

So though many scoffed at his desire to match Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50 million contract—a record for a mere relief pitcher—Robertson only fell $4 million short. Not bad for a guy with ties to draft-pick compensation in a market that only gave Andrew Miller $36 million over four years.

Of course, the White Sox aren’t losing a first-round pick, as their No. 8 pick in the 2015 draft is protected. And while there are quips to be made about the White Sox paying a “proven closer” premium for Robertson, the truth is this is hardly the worst overpay in baseball history.

Why? Let’s just say I’m with Chuck Garfien of CSN Chicago on this one:

He’s not wrong, you know.

According to FanGraphs, Chicago’s bullpen was the third-worst in the American League in 2014 with a 4.38 ERA. And of the team’s 89 losses, its bullpen accounted for an MLB-high 32 of them. 

Without question, Robertson can help.

The 29-year-old right-hander wasn’t the most flawless closer last year, as he saved 39 games in 44 chances with a modest 3.08 ERA. But even those numbers resemble an upgrade for a White Sox club that basically didn’t have a closer in 2014.

And it bears mentioning that the basic numbers might not do Robertson justice. By FanGraphs WAR, he tied for the 13th-highest WAR among relievers last year. Furthermore, here’s Dave Cameron of FanGraphs with a note on how Robertson will fit into the White Sox’s bullpen from a WAR perspective in 2015:

The White Sox bullpen was a huge problem. Overall, our forecast had the entire group being worth +0.3 WAR, the second worst collection of relievers in baseball. David Robertson immediately changes that calculation, given that he’s forecast for +1.8 WAR in 65 innings pitched. Adding Robertson to the White Sox group pushes them from something like worst in the league to middle of the pack. He’s that good.

Going from the lowest of the low to the middle of the pack is quite the leap, and I’ll wager the White Sox bullpen might take an even bigger jump in 2015.

Consider the other big addition to Chicago’s bullpen: Zach Duke. FanGraphs‘ projections only have the left-hander down for 0.7 WAR in 2015, which is 0.6 less WAR than he posted on his way to a 2.45 ERA in 2014. I’m of the mind that’s actually a repeatable performance. With a sinker that gets ground balls, a curveball that misses bats and an ability to get right-handed batters out, Duke is the real deal.

Mind you, Chicago’s bullpen outside of Duke and Robertson is shaky. But the White Sox can rest easy knowing they should at least have a shutdown duo working the eighth and ninth innings. That’s something that can go a long way in the regular season and even more so in the postseason.

Which brings us to the big question: Now that their bullpen has gotten a major patch job, are the White Sox ready to contend in 2015?

I hesitate to say yes, as right now the White Sox still have a fair number of holes surrounding their new-look bullpen.

They have a serious need for starting pitching depth. And though LaRoche is a solid complement for Jose Abreu in the middle of Chicago’s lineup, that FanGraphs has the White Sox projected in the lower third of MLB for position player WAR in 2015 isn’t misleading. They’re lacking in upside at several positions.

But then again, who says the White Sox are done?

After closing the deal with Robertson on Monday night, all signs point toward the White Sox closing a deal for Samardzija next. After initially reporting that the A’s and White Sox were on the verge of a trade, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com later reported that, while not yet official, a deal is “agreed to.”

Assuming that trade does eventually go through, the White Sox will be adding Samardzija to a starting rotation that already has Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Slot Samardzija in between the two of them, and you’re looking at a rotation trio with three of the top 15 starters in MLB in 2014 by WAR.

So all told, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about the offseason the White Sox are having. In adding LaRoche, they’ve given Abreu some much-needed support in the lineup. In adding Robertson and Duke, they’ve upgraded their bullpen from one of the league’s worst to potentially one of the league’s best. If Samardzija is indeed coming aboard next, that bullpen will be a part of a lethal overall pitching staff.

That sounds like enough to make the White Sox contenders in an AL Central that’s looking wide open at the moment. The winter market could make sure it stays that way, as the Detroit Tigers stand to lose Max Scherzer, and the Kansas City Royals stand to lose James Shields.

There are issues elsewhere in the American League, too. The Oakland A’s appear to be rebuilding. The Baltimore Orioles have lost two of their best players to free agency. The Boston Red Sox have lots of hitters but still need lots of pitching. The New York Yankees are a mediocre product with a big payroll.

As such, it’s hard to say the White Sox have misread the situation. The American League is practically begging them to go for it, and the White Sox are obliging.

“Whether it’s a big name or an expensive piece in the rotation, the bullpen or a position player standpoint, I think it would send that type of message,” general manager Rick Hahn recently said of sending a win-now message, via Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “We’re very cognizant of the fact that it’s nice to make headlines in December.”

The White Sox are making headlines, all right. And with each new headline, they’re only becoming more dangerous.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.  

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David Robertson to White Sox: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

After rejecting a qualifying offer to remain with the New York Yankees, right-handed pitcher David Robertson has found a new employer in the Chicago White Sox.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Robertson has signed a four-year contract worth more than $10 million per season, switching teams for the first time in his MLB career:

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provided further clarification on how much money Robertson will be getting from Chicago:

Robertson, who was previously used as a relief pitcher, became the Yankees’ closer this past year, posting 39 saves in 44 attempts.

Robertson’s somewhat inconsistent results can be attributed to his tendency to walk batters, though he did record 96 strikeouts in just 64.1 innings in 2014. That had to play a part in New York’s decision not to commit to Robertson long-term, as he had just moved into a new role.

Jason Catania of Bleacher Report weighed in once Robertson refused the Yankees’ one-year, $15.3 million deal:

It remains to be seen whether Robertson will be deployed as a closer for the White Sox, given that he’s been quite prolific in a middle-relief role for the majority of his days in the big leagues. When Robertson was named an All-Star in 2011, he had a sensational 1.08 ERA that year in 70 appearances. But considering the large amount of money he will now be making, odds are he’ll be the closer moving forward. 

Whatever role Robertson assumes moving forward, Chicago has definitely bolstered its bullpen with a proven veteran who thrived amid the pressure of playing in the unforgiving New York media market. Being the temporary successor to legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is proof of that.

If Robertson can continue to polish his mechanics and cut down on the walks, he has room to improve and become a multiple-time All-Star.

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade and Free-Agent Rumors Around the League

The first month of the MLB offseason is the most crucial because it generally establishes which teams are going to be players and which teams are going to sit most of the winter out.

We’ve now come to roughly the one-month mark, and many teams have already indicated the roles they’ll play in the coming weeks. The rumors have swirled since before the World Series ended, but they’ve now picked up with no more baseball to play. The focus is solely on free agency and the trade market.

There seem to be daily updates on the top names on the market. In order to keep up with some of the more pertinent rumors, read up on some of the latest buzz below.


Miguel Montero

The free-agent catching market is essentially depleted following Toronto’s signing of Russell Martin. That makes players like Miguel Montero very valuable.

That said, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports that there hasn’t been much traction in talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks backstop: “According to a source, talks regarding Montero have not picked up significantly in the days following the Toronto Blue Jays’ signing of catcher Russell Martin. Among the teams the Diamondbacks have spoken to about Montero are the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.”

The White Sox are a particularly interesting fit for Montero. The team has been aggressive this offseason, signing Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche already. They’ve also been linked to Pablo Sandoval, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. It appears as if they’re done being cellar-dwellers.

Tyler Flowers, the team’s primary catcher in 2014, hit 15 homers in his first go-around as an everyday backstop, but he slashed just .241/.297/.396.

Montero was better at .243/.329/.370, but his first-half numbers are what really kept his yearly marks respectable. He posted an OPS of just .596 after the All-Star break.

Regardless, Montero‘s veteran know-how and history of success at the plate make him a good fit in Chicago.

Arizona must be realistic in what it asks for. He’s still owed $40 million over the next three years and is coming off a miserable half at the plate. The desperation teams have for catching help should drive his interest up, however.


Yasmany Tomas

A handful of teams are interested in Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. The outfielder has already drawn plenty of serious interest, as Peter Gammons tweeted:

But what has teams going crazy over the next possible Cuban phenom? Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes that his power is something special:

And seeing as nothing excites executives more today than a power hitter, they want to believe that Tomas hit a home run during a workout in the Dominican Republic that went so far over a fence it smashed into a ladder on which a fence-painting man stood. Just like they want to believe he really did hammer a home run into a faraway laundry facility at the Philadelphia Phillies’ complex. Or that he really did park a home run over the scoreboard at Estadio Quisqueya, also in the Dominican Republic, or hit another from one team’s facility into another team’s that sits catty-corner, or that he hit a ball 550 feet. That last one is probably not true. Probably.

That kind of power is hard to come by, especially in a game in which right-handed power bats are at a minimum.

The Seattle Mariners seem like a logical landing spot given their strong presence in the left-handed batter’s box. There isn’t much pop from the other side of the plate, though.

Adding Tomas to the lineup would be huge for Seattle. He’s not a guarantee, but we all witnessed how Jose Abreu produced in his rookie campaign. The two players have similar power. That’s making teams excited about the newest Cuban defector.

It goes without saying that a surprise team in the mix for Tomas is the San Diego Padres. Not known for spending big money in free agency, the Friars are perhaps finally looking to add some power to spacious Petco Park. If there’s anybody on the market who can hit it out anywhere in that park, it’s Tomas.

At this point, any number of teams—even ones not listed by Gammons—could emerge and land arguably the top young hitter on the market.


David Robertson

The Houston Astros made great strides in 2014, but the one thing they lacked was some oomph coming out of the bullpen. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that they’re apparently looking into the issue: “The Astros have communicated with [David] Robertson’s agent Scott Leventhal to express their interest in the Yankees’ closer, an industry source said.”

Easily the top closer on the market, David Robertson is seeking a big contract. Brian Cashman, the general manager tasked with deciding if he wants to re-sign his closer from 2014, spoke about whether or not Robertson is deserving of a lucrative deal, per ESPN’s Andrew Marchand:

Clearly, as a free agent, he is going to maximize his value, period, whatever that turns out to be, but I wouldn’t characterize it other than the fact to say he is helluva pitcher that did it in the toughest environment after the greatest player of all-time and he did it with ease. I would suspect that would command top dollar.

Robertson actually pitched to his highest ERA (3.08) since 2010 (3.82) last season, but he did save 39-of-44 and strike out 96 in 64.1 innings. That makes him worth the money.

Houston would make headlines by signing Robertson, as it would represent the first significant signing for the Astros in some time. If nothing else, it would show that the organization thinks it is close to contention and that a few smart signings in key areas could push them into the playoff hunt.

Seeing as the Astros will likely play in many close games given their so-so starting staff and decent offense, having a closer capable of shutting the door is crucial. Robertson is the best available, making him a fit.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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MLB Free Agents 2014: Rumors, Predictions for Top Names on the Market

There’s always that dark-horse team that gets in the way of your MLB free agency predictions.

Don’t worry; it happens to everybody.

But staying informed on the hottest free-agent rumors makes it easier to decipher which teams will be players for which free agents. Of course, you’ll always have those situations like when the Seattle Mariners shocked the entire universe and outbid the New York Yankees for Robinson Cano.

But that doesn’t happen often.

The next month or so is crucial for the outlook of the MLB offseason. Winter meetings will be upon us in a few weeks, and that’s usually when the first of the big deals go down.

Read on to find out which big names could find new homes in the near future, as well as predictions for where those homes will be.


David Robertson

David Robertson stepped up to the challenge of replacing Mariano Rivera last season, saving 39 of 44 games for the New York Yankees. That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to return, though, as he rejected the team’s qualifying offer and is seeking a lucrative contract.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that there’s at least one team out there ready to talk turkey with the 29-year-old: “The Astros have communicated with Robertson’s agent Scott Leventhal to express their interest in the Yankees’ closer, an industry source said.”

Houston’s bullpen prevented the team from reaching .500 last season, making Robertson a logical fit for the organization. Davidoff writes, “Their relievers tallied a woeful 4.80 ERA, and they converted just 54.39 percent (31-for-57) of their save opportunities, worst in the AL.”

If there’s one team on the market desperate for late-inning help, it’s Houston. It has a problem.

Of course, it’s truly impossible to rule out the Yankees. Uncertainties surrounded the closer role prior to last year, and Robertson stepped up. Does the team want to go with a first-time closer yet again in 2015? It’d likely be Dellin Betances tasked with shutting the door. He might not be the most reliable option.

The question for the Yankees comes down to just how highly they value Robertson—not as a member of the organization, but as a piece toward building a larger puzzle. ESPN’s David Schoenfield broke down how Robertson stacked up to other relievers in 2014:

Robertson is coming off a 3.08 ERA — that’s nothing special these days for a reliever. Sixty-nine relievers who threw at least 50 innings had a lower ERA in 2014. He saved 39 games in 44 opportunities. That’s a save percentage of 88.6. Sounds good, but again, it’s nothing special; 13 closers with at least 20 opportunities had a higher percentage in 2014. Robertson also allowed seven home runs in 2014, six to right-handed batters.

Does that sound like a pitcher deserving of a contract in the ballpark of $50 million?

The Astros’ desperation makes them more likely to pay the type of money Robertson seeks. The Yanks will make a push, but there are other arms in the organization capable of taking over, ultimately ending their pursuit.

Prediction: Astros


Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval is widely considered to be the offensive crown jewel of the offseason, making his list of suitors quite a lengthy one. It seems as if he’s already done some deliberating, however, as ESPN reports that he is nearing a decision:

Free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval is expected to make a decision about his baseball future this week, according to his brother and co-agent.

Michael Sandoval did not specify which teams are in the running, but he told ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes on Saturday that Pablo Sandoval has received contract offers from all of the teams under consideration and will take the weekend to weigh his options.

Multiple teams have been linked heavily to the 28-year-old. The Boston Red Sox are known to have major interest, as are the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres, notes ESPN.

Sandoval is a hero in the Bay Area, so it would be a shock to see him move on. He was a catalyst for the Giants in the World Series, recording 12 hits and almost single-handedly keeping his team from allowing the Kansas City Royals to build significant momentum. He has won three rings in his seven-year career.

Of course, it would be hard for the third baseman to turn down a lucrative offer from another team. His agent would be wise to convince him to take the money, as questions surrounding his weight will surely inhibit him from making money the next time he hits the open market.

A player on the wrong side of 30 with his build (5’11”, 245 pounds) certainly won’t make top dollar. Now he can.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted that the Sox had inked Sandoval, but his agent, Gustavo Vasquez, denied reports, via Alex Speier of 93.7 WEEI: “We have offers, [but] no deal.”

Something’s cooking, however, and it appears imminent that Sandoval will join Boston.

Prediction: Red Sox


Jon Lester

Jon Lester more than likely won’t return to the Oakland Athletics, meaning he’s gearing up to change addresses this winter for the second time since July. Where he’ll go is anybody’s guess, and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that “at least six [teams] are interested.”

That doesn’t count the Yankees, though, and Rosenthal makes a point to say that the Yankees’ stance on Lester could change in an instant given their propensity to quickly decide whether or not they want to outbid other teams for a top star.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe described the team’s strategy when courting players: “[Brian] Cashman is one of the best at not showing his hand. He will downplay every possible move the Yankees should or could make, and when it comes down to doing it, the Yankees pounce swiftly.”

Cashman is well aware of the holes his team has, and it’s probably overwhelming to figure out which hole to fill first. The Yankees have a ton of pitching, but Cashman is admittedly concerned with the health of his staff, via Cafardo: “I think we have good pitching, but there’s obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them.”

Will that lead the Bombers to Lester?

Cashman did admit that “ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field,” so he certainly can’t rule out a big-ticket acquisition.

The Yankees’ insistence on not dishing out big contracts to aging players has preoccupied much of their thinking. CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez haven’t panned out particularly well in recent memory.

But look what happened when the team had them all going strong early in their deals in 2009. The Yankees won the World Series.

Winning the Fall Classic is worth suffering through a few tough years when the contracts are close to expiring. If Cashman wants to truly improve his team, then he’ll go hard after Lester in hopes of recapturing the same magic he had prior to the team’s last championship.

Given the resources at his disposal, Cashman can make it happen.

Prediction: Yankees


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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Relief Options Still Exist for New York Yankees

With David Robertson heading to the disabled list and an already young and inexperienced bullpen, the New York Yankees must explore the several relief options that still remain on the free agent market in an attempt to upgrade their roster.

While the likes of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno have held their own through the start of this young season, the Yankees lack relievers with both veteran leadership and closing experience. Even when Robertson returns, manager Joe Girardi may sleep easier with a more established setup man in his pen than Kelley. He could probably use an experienced arm in the middle innings of games. 

The players mentioned here are by no means All-Stars, at least not anymore, otherwise they would have found a team by now. Instead, they could provide veteran leadership and a safety net should Robertson and his fellow young relievers hit a skid along the way.


All stats were obtained via Baseball Reference. 

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball. 


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Ranking the Most Important Players for the Yankees in 2014

The New York Yankees will have a very different look to their offense this season.  

With the key additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in the offseason, this team has promise again.  

Here is a look at the most crucial players for the Yankees going into the 2014 season.  


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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David Robertson: New York Yankees Reliever to DL, Actually Good News for Team

Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com reports that the New York Yankees announced Tuesday afternoon that reliever David Robertson is being placed on the DL with a strained left oblique muscle.

Right-hander Cody Eppley has been recalled, according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News.

This is just the latest item of bad news for the Yankees, who have been plagued by the injury bug for the past two weeks. Not only did it end the season of the greatest closer of all time, it delayed the return of speedy outfielder Brett Gardner (who suffered a setback in rehab last week) and forced an early end to Ivan Nova’s outing Monday evening in Baltimore (due to a sprained ankle).

David Phelps would be the likely choice to return to the rotation if Nova misses any starts, since he has been much better as a starter this year than Freddy Garcia.

Robertson had assumed closing duties after future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera tore his ACL. That injury occurred while he was catching fly balls in the outfield in Kansas City on May 3rd.

Robertson picked up his first save of the season against Tampa Bay on May 8th, but allowed a hit and two walks in the process. The next evening, he blew the save against the Rays, allowing four runs on three hits and a walk, raising his ERA to 2.63 on the season. He began the evening with an ERA of 0.00.

Rafael Soriano picked up the save against Tampa Bay on May 10th, the night after Robertson’s ugly effort, though Soriano did allow an earned run on one hit. Soriano was called upon not because of Robertson’s ineffectiveness, but merely because Robertson had pitched two days in a row and had thrown a lot of pitches.

But Soriano was called upon again on Monday night in Baltimore, even though Robertson was ostensibly fresh. Soriano would have had a perfect ninth, but Eric Chavez committed an error. Unflapped, Soriano promptly retired the next batter to end the game and seal the comeback victory.

It emerged that Robertson was unavailable due to an oblique issue, and that landed him on the DL less than 24 hours later.

It would be almost impossible to argue that Soriano is a better pitcher than Robertson, since the numbers stack up in favor of the latter. Soriano posted a 4.12 ERA last season and sports a robust 1.57 WHIP this year, with 13 K in 14 IP. By contrast, Robertson delivered an unreal 1.08 ERA with 100 K in 66.2 IP last year, and has already struck out 24 batters in 14.1 IP this season.

But as Yankees fans are swiftly finding out—after living with the greatness of Mariano in the ninth since 1997—closing the door in the ninth inning takes a special kind of pitcher. It’s not necessarily your best pitcher, or the guy that strikes out the most batters, but a uniquely stoic candidate that has experience and willful amnesia.

Rafael Soriano saved 45 games for Tampa Bay in 2010, and 27 for Atlanta in 2009, while Robertson has just four career saves. While no one will mistake him for Mo, Soriano has the experience.

He also has the closer-type contract. Against the better judgment of GM Brian Cashman, the Yankees signed Soriano to a three-year, $35 million deal. Soriano then quickly lost his eighth-inning role to the flame-throwing Robertson in 2011.

But in a world without Mariano, Soriano is the best candidate to close games for the Yankees, at least for this season. Being that no pitcher on the planet could possibly fill Rivera’s shoes, the Yankees would be foolhardy to ruin the confidence of a young up-and-coming reliever like Robertson.

He works like a charm in the eighth inning, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Let Soriano handle the ninth inning. He has the experience and he certainly has the stoic nature required to close. And if he fails spectacularly, at least he’s being handsomely paid for his troubles. Better to ruin the confidence of a 32-year-old and run him out of town in 2013 than to destroy a 27-year-old who proved last year he’s capable of being practically unhittable.

Robertson needs to mature as a pitcher anyway. He showed again and again last year that he was good at getting out of jams. But he had ample opportunity to demonstrate that because he was so good at getting himself into those jams. It was almost like he wanted to load the bases just so he could strike out the side.

That was something Mariano never did. Keep it boring, keep the bases empty, get the outs one-two-three, shake hands and go home. Robertson makes his appearances so thrilling that his Baseball Reference page actually lists his nickname as “Houdini.”

For now, the injury to Robertson guarantees that Soriano will be closing games. Unless he blows it, he could remain the closer even once Robertson returns.

Robertson can focus on getting healthy and spend some time reflecting on the bumpy week-and-a-half he spent as the closer. There’s no doubt he can get better and his brief trial by fire should motivate him to work on translating his eighth inning success to the ninth.

But as fate would have it, the ninth inning now belongs to Rafael Soriano. This is what he wanted when he came to New York and took the big money. This is his opportunity. He should sink his teeth into it and not let go—at least not until Robertson is ready to snatch it away from him.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

David Robertson Injury: Updates on Yankees Star’s Oblique Strain

On the heels of a season-ending ACL injury to legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, it appeared as though the ninth-inning job was there for the taking for set-up man David Robertson. Now that an injury has felled Robertson as well, though, things are as uncertain as ever in the Yankee bullpen.

Robertson was ruled unavailable on Sunday and Monday due to some discomfort in his rib area, and it turns out that the discomfort was worse than originally thought. According to Lou DiPietro of YES Network.com, Robertson has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.

The injury obviously comes at an awful time for Robertson, the Yankees and fantasy owners alike. Robertson was given the first crack at the closer spot last week and although he loaded the bases in his first chance, he converted the save. Robertson went on to blow a save and take a loss against the Tampa Bay Rays in his next outing, however.

Rafael Soriano nailed down the next save, and Robertson closed the game out in his next outing, although it wasn’t technically a save situation. With Robertson and Soriano seemingly engaged in a carousel at closer, the job was still there for the taking as of Monday night.

Soriano got the call against the Baltimore Orioles, though, and he registered the save. It wasn’t known at the time that Robertson was unable to pitch, as manager Joe Girardi revealed it after the game. With Robertson out for at least a couple weeks, Soriano is expected to assume the closer role on a full-time basis until Robertson gets back.

Assuming Soriano gets the job done without incident, he figures to be the main man, even when Robertson returns. Before Robertson’s meltdown last week, he hadn’t given up a run all season long and seemed like the logical choice to close out games with Rivera out. But this injury seems to have severely hurt his chances.

Soriano has closer experience with the Rays and Atlanta Braves, and he has done well in his own right this season, so he was a viable candidate for the job as well. The injury does leave the Yanks’ bullpen pretty thin at the moment, though. Corey Wade is likely to assume Robertson’s role as the eighth-inning set-up man, with lefty Boone Logan’s role increasing as well.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, Soriano now becomes a must-own in all formats, as he has an incredible opportunity to become the permanent closer for one of the best offensive and all-around teams in the game.

At the same time, it may be worth hanging onto Robertson and using the DL function in your league if it employs one. Should Soriano falter at all in Robertson’s absence, then Robertson will likely still be in the mix. Even if he comes back as a middle man, though, he may be the best in the league in that role and will still have value.


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