Among the many questions facing the New York Yankees entering this season was how the bullpen would fare without Mariano Rivera as a security blanket. Indeed, after failing in his brief tryout at closer in 2012, many questioned if David Robertson could successfully take over for the greatest of all time.
The season is young, but Robertson passed his first test with flying colors, working a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Houston Astros in a 4-2 win. First, Matt Dominguez hit a ball deep to center field, but it fell harmlessly into Jacoby Ellsbury’s glove. Next, Robertson blew a fastball by Alex Presley for his first strikeout of the year. Finally, Jonathan Villar tapped one back the mound.
Like his predecessor did so many times before, Robertson coolly fielded the ball and tossed it to first base, sealing the Yankees victory.
Robertson was dominant in his first appearance of the season and demonstrated he definitely has the stuff to be a successful closer. Still, I do not think anyone questioned his talent. Rather, they doubted if he has the so-called “closer mentality.” The only way to test that is to see how he responds to his first blown save. Hopefully, that test will not happen for a long time.
Another takeaway from Robertson’s performance is his fastball velocity. Towards the end of Spring Training, scouts reported he was down at around 88-90 mph, but he was consistently hitting 92 mph like he has for his entire career on Thursday. Clearly, he put those arm strength rumors to rest.
It’s tough to replace a legend like Rivera but Robertson has the stuff to pick up the slack and should only get better as the season goes on. Watch in person to see Robertson’s growth over the course of the season by heading to the New York Yankees Ticket Exchange for all your tickets this season.