The New York Yankees hosted a beautiful ceremony to honor their legendary closer Mariano Rivera yesterday. After what started as an amazingly happy day with tributes and gifts and a great musical performance of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, reality began to set in: there are only six games left in the season and in Mo’s career.
Like it or not, that means it’s time for the Yankees to move foward. Can David Robertson be Rivera’s successor? Robertson, who has been called Houdini because of his uncanny ability to get out of messy jams unscathed, came in to relieve Pettitte yesterday and ended up letting an inherited score, giving Andy the loss in his last home start.
Robertson has been the Yankees’ eighth-inning man all year and has been groomed to take over the closing role next year. But, manager Joe Girardi has had less faith in him as the season is coming to a close, sometimes taking him out of appearances before he could get out of an inning even in non-threatening situations, thus putting Rivera in extended save situations.
Yesterday, he took out Robertson after recording only one out in the eighth and Mo finished off the game, even though it was a loss on his special day.
Robertson is a former All-Star and has been in the Yankees’ bullpen since 2008, but really came into his own in 2011 when he posted a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances. But, he only has seven career saves and hasn’t proven that he could actually be a quality closer. Trying to replace the best closer in history is hard to live up to, and no one can be compared to Mo. That said, the fact of the matter is that it will be his job come next spring.
I still have concerns with him in that position; he doesn’t have the best control, especially with his fastball that tops out at 92 mph. Even though it is said that the ball explodes out of his hand and looks faster than it actually is, location is still the key to pitching, and Robertson has the tendency to leave the ball over the middle of the plate.
His curveball is filthy, but just like his heater, it’ll get hit hard if its location is not ideal. I have faith that Robertson will do a satisfactory job as a closer next year, but what will be more difficult than shutting down opposing teams in the ninth inning will be trying to become the heir to a throne that is untouchable and irreplaceable.