Unless you’ve been on a prolonged media detox or just recently returned to civilization, chances are you know that this is Mariano Rivera’s last year. Yes, since the sport’s greatest closer ever is hanging it up after the 2013 season, Yankees’ fans and haters alike, have been wondering what will the effect be on the Bronx Bombers? After all, we are talking about the man who since 1996, has been pulling the ‘that’s a wrap’ pretty much every single outing.
While there’s no doubt that the Yankees will miss Rivera and his storied cutter, thanks to the ridiculous talents of David Robertson, the team might not skip a beat in the closing department. Now sure, one could argue that in Robertson’s present role as Rivera’s set-up man he isn’t facing as many high leverage situations, but that certainly doesn’t wipe-out the 28 year-old’s awe inspiring numbers.
So far in 2013, Robertson has put up an outstanding ERA of 1.74 in just under 52 innings pitched. Opposing players are batting a paltry .202 off of him. In 2012, Robertson scored a 2.67 ERA in just over 60 innings pitched and batters hit .229 off the right-hander. Robertson’s WHIP this year is 1.01, and last year it was a 1.17. In terms of strikeouts per nine innings pitched, Robertson is currently at 10.97, which is actually down from the 12.02 he put up in 2012.
If you’re wondering what the legendary “Mo” has put up so far in 2013, his ERA currently sits at 2.38 and the opposition is hitting .257 off of him (he missed nearly all of 2012 due to trashing his knee). Rivera’s WHIP for 2013 is currently a 1.21, and his K/9 is currently at 8.14.
Now, obviously Robertson’s numbers aren’t too shabby, and if you’ve watched him pitch regularly, then you have a good sense of how he’s putting up these impressive numbers. Robertson’s most used pitch, like Rivera, is his cut fastball, which according to Brooks Baseball has a swing percentage rate of just over 37% (in 2013) and a whiff rate of around 7%. Robertson’s nasty curveball has a swing rate of over 47% and a jaw dropping whiff rate of over 22%. His stuff is pretty sick, and it’s worth noting that he’s not your typical power arm who’s in the big leagues thanks to a 95 MPH plus fastball. In other words, he’s not reliant on velocity, which has a way of eroding with age. We’ve all seen what an ageless wonder like Rivera has done thanks to building his game around a bat shattering cutter.
So, while it’s ridiculous and unfair to put the same expectations on Robertson that are tied to Rivera, it looks like the Yankees won’t need to look far for a new closer in 2014. If you’re wondering, Robertson is up for arbitration in 2014 and will enter free agency in 2015. Anyone thinking contract extension?