Replacing good players is never an easy task in sports, so the Yankees have quite the challenge as they look to replace the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera. Exit Sandman, enter pressure. The role of New York Yankees closer now rests on on the right arm of the Alabama-bred David Robertson.
It’ll be peculiar for Yankee fans to watch anyone that isn’t no. 42 run out of the bullpen in center field, but it’s a reality. The post-Mariano era will begin this season, and Robertson will take the field as “Sweet Home Alabama” blares over the loudspeaker.
Robertson has been the Yankees’ setup man for two years now. He’s the definition of a strikeout pitcher. In fact, among active pitchers, Robertson has one of the highest strikeouts rates at 12.03 K/9. He throws a fastball in the mid 90s, a sharp cutter and an absolutely deadly curveball that makes hitters look silly. The three pitches in his repertoire give him exactly two more pitches than Mariano Rivera threw, but very few pitches in history have been as devastating as Mo’s cutter.
I think Robertson certainly has the ability to be a tremendous closer, but there’ll be an adjustment period.
Robertson was nicknamed “Houdini” by his teammates in 2009 because he specialized in getting out of tough jams. This is a good quality to have as a closer, but giving up a lot of base runners and throwing a lot of pitches can come back to bite you. Mariano was a specialist at those breezy 1-2-3 innings where you never felt like the opponent had a chance. His pinpoint control is something that Robinson does not yet possess, and he might allow more baserunners than the Yankees are used to seeing in the ninth inning.
Aside from the cutter, Robertson and Mo share another thing in common — they are both class acts. Mariano is arguably the classiest player of all time. He played the game the right way day in and day out. Robertson was just recently awarded the “Good Guy” award by the media. He also runs a charity organization called “High Socks For Hope”, whose mission is to lend support to those affected by tragedies and to provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.
Replacing the best at a given position can’t be easy, but Robertson is the go-to guy for the Yankees now, and he should be accepted with open arms by the fans.