The New York Yankees honeymoon with David Robertson is apparently over. In only his second save attempt as the 2012 fill-in for Mariano Rivera, the new closer gave up 4 runs in the 9th inning to turn a 1 – 0 lead into a 4 – 1 loss for the Bombers. As the final outs were recorded in the game, some of the less-than-faithful Yankees fans were already flooding social media sites with comments like “I told you so”, “Joe Girardi should have left Robertson as the eighth inning guy”, and “Rafael Soriano should be the closer”.
Oh how soon people forget.
Fifteen years ago a new 27 year-old closer (same age as David Robertson) began the 1997 season by blowing three of his first seven save attempts. In fact, after that third blown save his ERA stood at 4.00, and he had a less than respectable 1.33 WHIP. Those are hardly the stats you want for a pitcher you are counting on to close out games. That New York Yankees pitcher was Mariano Rivera.
Just as patience with a new young closer in 1997 proved to be the correct strategy, so it should be now. David Robertson was moved into that role for a reason. If you recall, he entered the game as the MLB leader in consecutive scoreless innings pitched with 26 2/3 frames without a run. It was bound to happen. Not even the greatest reliever in the history of the game – Mariano Rivera – made it through an entire season without allowing an opponent to score. It is unfortunate that Robertson’s letdown occurred on his second save attempt, but I have to believe it would have happened whether he was closing a game or pitching in the eighth inning for the New York Yankees.
Like any good closer, David Robertson must now forget about yesterday and focus on his next opportunity to shut an opponent down. What has happened is in the past and there is nothing to change it. He must move forward, and New York Yankees fans will need to do the same.
He is young and has all the right tools to be a successful closer for the boys in pinstripes. We just need to allow him the time to develop into the role and believe in the lessons of the past.