On Sunday, George A King III of the New York Posted reported that David Robertson’s fastball velocity was sitting between 88 and 90 mph at the end of Spring Training. Since his debut in 2008, the New York Yankees’ closer has typically hit 92 and above.
The Yankees should not be overly concerned by this dip in velocity.
Foremost, King notes how Robertson throws harder over the course of the season: “In early April [last season] he was at 90.5 mph. At the end of May it was 93.2.” Many players start slowly and get better as the season progresses. If Robertson is topping out at 88 in June, then maybe the Yankees should start worrying.
Furthermore, Robertson doesn’t rely on velocity to get batters out. According to Fangraphs, he threw his cutter 49.6 percent of the time last year with an average velocity of 91.4 mph – almost a full mph slower than his fastball (92.3 mph). Robertson is a different pitcher than Aroldis Chapman – he doesn’t just reach back and blow hitters away. Like his predecessor, Robertson relies on movement.
Robertson’s best pitch is his curveball. He got more strikeouts in 2013 with his hook than any other pitch and batters hit a measly .091 against it. Though he relies on his heater to set up the off-speed, losing break on the curveball would be a much greater concern.
If Robertson was throwing slower in spring training, it didn’t seem to affect his performance. In six innings pitched, he posted a 0.00 ERA, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out five.