Aug
13

The rise of David Robertson

By

After starting the season in a downright dreadful fashion, the Yankees’ bullpen has righted itself and become a legitimate weapon. Most of the credit goes to the arrival of Al Aceves and the awesomeness of Phil Hughes, and rightly so, but they’re not alone in the bullpen’s revival. Since the start of June, David Robertson has pitched in 25 games for the Yanks, striking out 37 batters in 26 innings, contributing to his AL-best 12.69 K/9. Opponents are hitting just .204 off him in that time, and his groundball-flyball ratio is a studly 1.90. Sure, Robertson’s 5.13 BB/9 is too high, but he’s walked just four batters in his last 12 innings, so he’s improving. He’s also added velocity throughout the season.

Robertson absolutely annihilated the minors after signing for $200,000 out of The University of Alabama as a 17th round pick in 2006, and it looks like he’s starting to get over that rookie hump. As far as non-setup middle relievers go, it doesn’t get much better than David Robertson right now.

Categories : Asides

141 Comments»

  1. JSquared says:

    David Robertson’s a beast. Who doesn’t love the strikeout.

  2. Scooter says:

    Mike – DRob is yet another pitcher (like Kontos) who excelled in the Cape Cod League. (DRob was the CCL playoff MVP, right?)

    When he first showed up in the minors, there was debate raging about his FB velocity – someone (PinstripesPlus?) had reported him at 95 in the CCL, and we never saw that in the minors or majors.

    93 with deception and movement (and a great curve) is fine by me

    Melancon seemed to be pitching much better towards the end of his ML stint – the emergence of both will ease the loss of Phil Hughes to the rotation next year.

    (And speaking of the CCL, here’s hoping that the Yankees sign Cotham, Meade, and Lyons)

  3. Nady Nation says:

    Robertson, so hot right now, Robertson.

  4. AndrewYF says:

    I always thought Robertson had a pedestrian fastball, but his curveball was so good it didn’t matter.

    It’s great to see David unleash mid-90s heat. How do guys like him go completely unnoticed? He was a stud relief prospect since he was drafted, but no prospect site ever really took notice.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      He’s not a Red Sox or TEH UNTOUCHABLE Bard, duh!

      • Bo says:

        That joke is getting as tired as hearing someone do an Austin powers imitation

        • Salty Buggah says:

          Then you ignore it and move on while letting people who like it use it. You don’t have to complain about it everytime. It’s simple.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          We’ll stop when ESPN stops.

          • I actually agree with Bo here. The joke is beyond tired.

            • Salty Buggah says:

              Honestly, what I said above was kinda serious (the caps and exclamation point made it a joke). He asked why D-rob never got hyped much by the prospect sites. I said it’s because he’s not a Red Sox player (like Bard) who seem to be getting hyped a lot (though mostly rightfully so) because of the bias toward the Sox. And even with his insane minor-league numbers, he never really did get touted. I know Bard has more potential and has a 100 mph fastball but Robo had the better results too.

            • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

              Just wait until Luke Bard starts dominating.

          • That’s fine, that’s your prerogative… Just know that the joke sucks. Keep going back to that well as long as you want, though.

            • JobaWockeeZ says:

              My comment was partly a joke. Now I will continue using that joke but that’s only when Bard is going to be shown. Otherwise I’ll probably say some other overused joke.

              • JobaWockeeZ says:

                And when I mean shown, I mean any of the MSM saying how great he is. When he regularly comes out of the bullpen I wouldn’t care anymore.

            • It’s more than the joke. It’s this constant obsession with ESPN as though they are out to get the Yankees while simultaneously promoting the Red Sox. It’s the old liberal media charge but for baseball. Tiiiiired.

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                IDK, I think there’s a point. What with the one anchor chanting “boli, boli!” with A-Rod’s walkoff to many examples of analysts there touting Red Sox prospects to the point of ridiculousness while not even knowing the names of other prospects, not to mention like everyboody there originally picking the Yanks over the Sox..I think there’s something to the idea of the ESPN bias.

              • It’s also the reverse of what the general consensus was in the late 90′s-early 00′s – that ESPN was biased toward the Yankees. And it was true then, they paid more attention to the Yankees than they did to other teams.

                I do think ESPN shows an annoying bias towards Boston… The “boli boli boli” stuff bothers me, I can’t take Gammons anymore, yadda yadda… But the backlash is a bit overboard. The team that has had the strongest narrative the last few years will tend to get the most attention, it’s always been that way. The Sox went through a renaissance in the 00′s, and this is just one of the results of that.

                Personally, I don’t know how most fans keep watching ESPN. I haven’t watched ESPN regularly, other than when they show a game I want to see, for years, and I’m a happier person as a result.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  Gammons..forgot to mention Gammons, AKA the Red Sox fanboy. Good call.

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  Well said. The obsession may be tiiiired but it’s true for the most part.

                • Dayman, fighter of the Nightman says:

                  Could not agree more, Congressman. ESPN goes where the money goes. As far as the “boli, boli” quote, who cares? It was Jon Anderson, the co-host of Wipeout(terrible show), and the diminutive singer of Yes, probably just trying to be funny.

                • prime says:

                  The background used for the TV commercials that advertise Baseball Tonight and Sunday Night Baseball is the Fenway/Green Monster scoreboard, substituted for teams/times of the games or show. I don’t know how you can get more biased.

              • PinstripesForeverDougie says:

                Ben, I agree the obession is growing weary for the Universe but the chase for justice & fairness, is a fight we must continue till the bitter end. The bias is so extreme that we can’t ignore and hope it goes way. If we don’t fight for the abused, scared & depressed Yankee & other non- Roid Sux fans, who will?

                Thus, the good fight rages on, D-Rob is having a great season and everyone should realize that. Report it, NESPN.

      • Daniel Bard’s change up is faster than D-Rob’s fastball! Bard’s fastball has more movement than D-Rob’s curve! Daniel Bard is the Ted Williams of pitchers!!!1!11!!eleven!

  5. Salty Buggah says:

    Robo is awesome when he doesn’t walk people.

  6. Jake H says:

    I really like Robertson. I don’t think he is going to walk a ton. The guy has been very good.

  7. 2008 BP summed Robertson up well: He’s got filthy stuff that hitters may never be able to touch, but they might not have to to reach base. If he can get the walk totals down…

  8. OmgZombies! says:

    How did this guy go from low 90′s to hitting 94-95 at times. Its good to see young Yankee pitchers gain velocity than lose it.

  9. Andy says:

    You can live with a couple extra BB when hitters are only hitting .204 against you and you K people more often than anyone in the majors (almost a full k per 9 better than the second place pitcher, one of baseball’s premier closers, Joe Nathan). Which is why he should NOT be sent down for Marte, even if that means sending down Coke.

    • JGS says:

      anyone in the AL anyway–Jonathan Broxton is still over 13 K/9

    • Chris says:

      He will (most likely) be sent down when Marte comes back. It’s only for 2 weeks, so it really doesn’t matter who you send down as long as they have options.

      • AndrewYF says:

        Um, Robertson isn’t going to be sent down just because. He’s become more and more a big part of the bullpen, and Girardi seems to trust him. You don’t get rid of that for an unknown like Marte. They’ll probably just wait until September to bring Marte back.

        • Chris says:

          They can’t wait til September to bring Marte back (as far as I know). He started his rehab on July 16 and there is a one month limit. That means he will be back in the next few days.

          Of course, they could do something silly like put Mo on the 15day DL so he can come back, but I don’t see that happening.

  10. Makavelli says:

    Here we go…Yes, he’s pitching well. But so was Brian Bruney for a little bit and then he came back down to earth. Small sample sizes.

    He’s pitching very well and I hope he continues…but if history has shown us anything that’s been consistent at all…it’s that these good stretches don’t last. I really hope it does though. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s unlikely…

    My fear is that, since they’re all fairly inexperienced, they foil in the playoffs (assuming we make it there)…but I really hope I’m wrong…

    • Rivera and Hughes have both pitched in the postseaon.

      • Makavelli says:

        True! I saw the only win the Yankees got in 2007 aka The Rocket’s last appearance ever. Hughes came in and threw lightning bolts though…awesome

        • PinstripesForeverDougie says:

          and for some reason, no one ever credits Phil for that tremendous 1st postseason effort. The guy has shown in his debut season that he would be a fine pitcher. Always believe in the Hughes!!

    • Salty Buggah says:

      He’s always shown he can K people in the minors and even last year when he struggled. Remember he’s not a completely finished product so he still needs to get his walks down and he’ll probably work t get them down. Have faith in him.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      Bruney has been doing well. It’s actually a pretty long stretch of good disguised by a short stretch of shittiness from Bruney.

      • Makavelli says:

        Agreed…

      • I’m a Bruney fan, but that statement’s inaccurate. Calling Bruney’s career, or even just the last couple of years of it, a “pretty long stretch of good disguised by a short stretch of shittiness” is a little too generous. He’s shown flashes, but no sustained success.

        Again… I’m a Bruney fan… But criticism of the inconsistency in his career so far is fair and is really just acknowledging the historical record.

        • Makavelli says:

          I agree more with this assessment. I’m not a Bruney fan. I mean I’m a fan when he does well but that’s with anyone. Overall, I don’t really get excited when I hear he’s coming in. In fact, I’ll always be nervous with anybody that comes in other than Rivera and Hughes

          • Ghost of Scott Brosius says:

            Same but im really starting to feel comfortable with drob. I just feel like he can get the job done

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          No, I meant as a Yankee. He did good last year and has done better recently.

          The only time he’s really been shitty as a Yankee was recently when he came off the DL. And he’s been doing better.

          • That’s still just not accurate though. He’s never had sustained success, even as a Yankee. Look, I like Bruney, too, and I think he can be a big part of the Yankees’ bullpen this year and in the next few years, if he stays healthy and can improve his control. But he’s never put it together for a long stretch, whether due to slumps or injuries. Not yet.

            http://www.baseball-reference......br01.shtml

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Well, in 08′ he did have a 1.83 ERA. But I see your point. He’s never been able to go for a full or close to full season due to injuries.

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                As a Yankee I mean anyway.

              • Exactly. He’s shown flashes, but he certainly hasn’t shown the sustained success that you implied in your comments above. Even the year you cited, 2008, was a year in which he only pitched in 32 games and lost most of the season to injury. It’s just more evidence that he’s never had sustained success; that evidence itself actually cuts against the case you were trying to make.

                So, yeah, heres to hoping he can put it together for a nice long stretch. I’m all for giving him the chance to do it.

    • whozat says:

      Relievers are, by their nature, volatile. The idea is that you amass a number of arms like Bruney, Robertson, Kontos and Veras (who K guys, walk guys, and give up homers) and ride the hot hand. Some lose the modicum of control they had, some get hurt, and some have stretches where they’re really good. So you ride the hot hand as much as you can and swap them out when they suck.

      They key is flexibility and depth.

  11. steve s says:

    Is he untouchable or is he instead a chip for getting a legit no. 5 (Harang) (or worse; the PTBNL for Gaudin?).

  12. jsbrendog says:

    ladies and gentleman your minor league dominance factor leader of the past few years!

  13. JSquared says:

    12 of the 25 players on the roster are homegrown yankees. Unless you include Matsui. I think D-Rob is just another example of the Yankees being able to spot their talent that will succeed. Let’s all just hope Montero and Jackson have great success as well.

  14. Bo says:

    he’s earning his way into more high leverage spots. Thats how it should be. Nothing handed to u.

  15. Zack says:

    Have to admit, i was very skeptical of DRob because of his walks, even with his high K rate. But hey he’s doing the job so I cant complain.

    17th round pick? Just another reason you dont need to pick relievers in the first round- cough-SEATTLE-cough

  16. Raf says:

    hes been pitching better as of late and like someone said before, coming into more high leverage situations. hopefully he can keep it up since Hughes has been getting shorter outings as of late for whatever reason.

  17. What’s surprising is that despite D-Rob’s super high BB/9, his OBP against is a super low .309. I like it. Go Robertson!

  18. Dillon says:

    Everyone likes Melancon a ton, but DRob’s stats were better in the minors minus the walks. A ton more K’s and less hits. They say his fastball is sneaky fast. If he’s hitting 93mph consistently watch out.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      The whole thing with Melancon has to do with great scores on his psych test or something. I’m a big Melancon fan.

      • JMK says:

        Sounds interesting. Do you have a link?

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          Unfortunately no. I just remember people talking about how he had a “great closer’s mentality” because of some tests or something.

          • mattb says:

            I like Melancon, but I won’t lie in that my initial impression of him has mildly (with the major SSS qualifier). I follow prospects stats regularly, but I have to cop to never ever getting the chance to see them in person.

            As to Melancon, the rationales I’d heard offered for why he could be special are: (1)great fastball command with late movement (2) great ability to work very efficiently and pitch to contact as needed (and he absolutely demonstrated this in Triple A) (3)off the charts make-up (I’m the son of shrinks, but I’ll never get excited over hearing that–it’s nice but it’s only remotely relevant if you’ve got the ability to begin with) and (4) a great curve, that I had seen referenced several times as potentially being a plus pitch to the same extent as Joba’s slider.

            Thus far, the fastball command and efficiency clearly aren’t there, though I have no doubt that has something to do with nerves and highly irregular usage. I have been pleased to see better fastball velocity in his second stint.

            What I don’t see is the curve–I mean it’s fine, but I’m not sure I’ve even see it as plus pitch thus far.

            Basically, I didn’t expect Melancon to be Joba ’07–almost nobody ever will be. But given that supposed make-up and the fact that he’s not actually young, I anticipated a much more immediate impact arm than we’ve gotten.

            And it’s tough, because with the Joba plan, necessitating keeping Mitre and Gaudin, he won’t be back until Sept. And I think it’s important for him to actually get some real consistent work soon–he’s 26, the Yanks need to find out what they have in him.

            I don’t mean to sound knee-jerk or harsh here–my guess is he’ll make a very good middle innings reliever, maybe more. But I can’t say I’ve seen the instant vibe of heir apparent to Mo that was kind of built up.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Really? I disagree. He had an excellent debut with Boston, with a four pitch inning or something and then getting out of a bases loaded no out jam. And near the end of his stay in NY he pitched better.

              I’m still a Melancon fan.

              • mattb says:

                Oh as am I, and I agree with the Honorable Congressman below, that alot of it is MSM/Yankee organizational hype. I freely admit that I’d never seen Melancon pitch before his Boston debut. And saying “disappointed” is probably going way too far given the sample size, because I usually know better than to buy into the “next Mo” or “next Joba.”

                Part of it no doubt is just making the jump for the first time, but in just looking at Melancon’s triple A numbers, it wasn’t the K/9 and H/9 peripherals that I really noted, even though they were great–rather, it was the scary good efficiency. He was just an out machine, seemingly an endless stream of 7-8 pitch innings–obviously, the very fact of the jump to MLB is going to make him less of a machine, but I’ve been somewhat surprised to just not have noticed that kind of efficiency really at all. But I’m definitely willing to attribute a great deal of that to the iregular work–his first stint was a joke. He impresed in Boston, and then Girardi, IMHO, mismanaged that Angels game terribly and put him in just an awful spot that he really should’t have been tossed into (the Gary Matthews bases load clearing double). Abd then you never saw him again.

                I will say I’m certainly encouraged that as he got incrementally more chances in the second stint, he certainly pitched better (referring to the time after the two weeks you never saw him after he struggled in Anaheim).

                At the same time, maybe others disagree, maybe I just don’t have the eye for it, but I’ve yet to see a devestating curve. I’ve seen some good ones, particularly in Detroit when he was first up, but not the plus plus pitch I’d heard about. I do like the fastball I’m seeing though, 93 and everything moves, that’s the kind of fastball that allows you to really work efficiently, so long as you command it–and I do trust that eventually Melancon will exhibit the outstanding command he’s shown at Triple A.

                I think I managed to totally reverse positions between posts here. “Disappointed” was too strong-”jury’s out, but nice potential” is probably more accurate.

            • “I don’t mean to sound knee-jerk or harsh here–my guess is he’ll make a very good middle innings reliever, maybe more. But I can’t say I’ve seen the instant vibe of heir apparent to Mo that was kind of built up.”

              I think that’s because that heir-apparent talk wasn’t ever really coming from the organization or the more informed analysts as much as it was coming from more MSM figures and fans who heard the Yanks had a good reliever in the minors and automatically made the connection that the guy must be the second-coming of Mo, without really knowing much, if anything, about who/what Melancon actually is. The top relieving prospect in the minors is always talked about like he’s the heir-apparent, by simple merit of being the best (or most hyped) of the guys in the minors in the organization. Before Melancon, it was Cox. I don’t think anyone in the know actually ever saw either of those guys in that light, though.

              • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                I was actually quite impressed by Melancon’s first appeaance, and in a very high pressure game vs. the Red Sox.

                Heir apparent to Mo? Far, far too early to tell, he’ll need to show dominance before you could come to that conclusion. Furuture set up man? I think so.

              • mattb says:

                Oh I don’t disagree, and there’s no heir apparent to Mo anyway. They’ll find a good closer and continue to win games, since we know that the importance of that role is vastly misunderstood and overblown (with Mariano being special, but to me, and maybe it’s obvious, but that’s because of the postseason–you’ve def had regular seasons this decade where Mo’s VORP–before WAR was all the rage–ranked behind Foulke at times, and Nathan at others–Mo is specical because of the once in a lifetime ability to be so consistently good for so long in a role that’s not amenable to that, and having performed at the highest level on the biggest stage; not to mention that one can easily argue that he’s still getting better, if that’s possible).

                I think for me with Melancon, it wasn’t that he didn’t dominate immediately, it was that he didn’t immediately flash the skill set that had everybody raving about him, namely great fastball command with late movement allowing him to induce alot of weak contact and have short innings, as well as the plus curve. For me, he actually looked alot like DRob looked last year, which surprised me–and I’m very high on DRob–maybe MM just didn’t look as much of a finished product as I sort of anticipated.

                In any case, his continued development, along with the emergence of DRob–and generally strong work from Coke (though he’s another story, freaking great peripherals, but in SSS way too homer friendly in big spots) and Melancon, that’s a nice young core of a pen to be behind Mo. And they’re all key, as I’m sadly one of those in the camp that says Bruney won’t ever put it together–he’ll have stretches, but nothing he’s ever done leads me to believe that he will suddenly become a pitcher capable of sustained excellence over an entire year). And frankly, I think Edwar and Alby are what they are, and we’ve seen enough of that. Don’t really know enough about Dunn, Kontos, the other Texeira and some of the next guys in line to comment on them (maybe the day will come when I conceive of Clagget as being an effective reliever, but even a guy who believes in rationality, has trouble having seen his two outings this year). But if Marte makes it all the way back next year, Mo, Marte, Coke, DRob, Melancon and Aceves is one heck of a starting point for a pen, with, of course, the constant caveat as to reliver volatility.

                Man, sorry for all the incredibly long posts—I’m way too amped up from having basically lived at work this week. I hope I’m even making sense.

          • Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that rep is due more to coaches’ and other people’s impressions of Melancon, in his time on the mound and while recovering from injury, rather than the result of some wonderlic-like test.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Possibly.

              I just remember someobdy saying that, maybe on the air or possibly even on one of the blogs.

    • In the next few years, I think they’ll make a potent 1-2 punch at the end of the bullpen.

  19. Rob in CT says:

    I just like the guy. I think it’s b/c of the curveball. I love curveballs. Same reason I like Hughes so much.

  20. mattb says:

    Also flying under the radar and it’s key: DROB, at least in the small sample size we have to work with, keeps the ball in the park. 3 dingers in 33 IP–that 11:1 IP/HR ratio is indeed the best amongst all Yankee relivers, Mariano included (49 IP/6 HR for aboout an 8:1 ratio)–granted Mo’s home run rate is up this yaar (though the pace at which it was increasing has slowed in an extraordinarily dramatic fashion).

    Still too many walks, though his BB/9 I believe has been ever so slighly trending down–and when you give up 6.75 H/9, have that insane K rate, and keep the ball in the yard, you’re in the best position possible to succeed despite the walks to the extent that’s possible.

    With the velocity increase, I think if you asked me whether I want D-Rob or Bruney over the next 5 years, it’s not even close. D-Rob’s added enough on that FB, and his secondary stuff is nastier than Bruney’s will ever be. And he keeps the freaking ball in the yard.

    He’s probably not a closer, and we’re looking at him at a time he’s going well. But this kid could–I caution could–end up being good enough to be the primary set-up man on a playoff team.

    • mattb says:

      Haha I feel like I always manage to find a way to mention that I’m a miserable slave corporate attorney–but I just find it amusing that after endless years of having the importance of details drilled into me, I’m utterly incapable of posting here without massive typo fail. And now I’ve probably ventured off topic. Double fail.

  21. Jeffrey says:

    I think Robertson will cut down the walks as he gains more experience and gets regular work. Anyway there’s nobody better to learn from than Mo.

    • Ditto this. I feel as though Mo could maybe lay a little bit of the control knowledge on D-Rob.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

        Eh…maybe Mo could help, but other than that I there really is no reason to believe his walk rate will improve. It was high in the minors as well.

    • Zack says:

      Unfortunately, I disagree. He’s had a high walk rate from college, through the minors (that has a big enough sample size), and now in the majors. Of course it will improve from 5.1 BB/9, just dont know how much lower

  22. Frank says:

    Glad to see D-Rob finally getting some love. I firmly believe he will be a key component to this BP moving forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all seeing him move ahead of Coke on the depth chart.

  23. Danny says:

    D-Rob is so cute…. oh yea and hes a good pitcher too haha :)

  24. Jersey says:

    Buchholz just gave up back-to-back jacks in Beantown.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      No he didn’t. Gameday just acted weird.

      • Makavelli says:

        Obv. Too good to be true things never happen to Boston…unless it’s in their favor. I’m surprised we swept the 4 game series…but I’m not surprised they turned it on out of no where when they got home against one of the best pitchers in baseball this season (Jackson). Too predictable.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          They still would only have split the series if Youkilis didn’t realize there was no way they’d beat Porcello and so reolved to throw his helemt at him and get him suspended instead…

          The worst part is it worked.

    • Tampa Yankee says:

      no he didn’t

  25. [...] Over the last 30 days, the Yankee bullpen’s ERA of 3.83 is higher than the Red Sox’s 3.53. However, the Sox have been helped by a good defensive club (J.D. Drew, Pedroia, Youkilis, Kotchman, etc.), as their FIP of 4.36 is considerably higher than their ERA. The Yankees actually have a 3.50 FIP during that span, meaning that their defense could have done a bit more to help the team’s relievers (there’s not a huge disparity between the ERA and FIP, though). The Yankee bullpen also have a 9.62 K/9 while Boston’s K/9 is 8.04. Our relievers are also walking fewer batters—2.78 BB/9—when compared to the BoSox relief corps (4.08 BB/9). Much of this success can be attributed to Phil Hughes and the emerging David Robertson. [...]

  26. [...] Over the last 30 days, the Yankee bullpen’s ERA of 3.83 is higher than the Red Sox’s 3.53. However, the Sox have been helped by a good defensive club (J.D. Drew, Pedroia, Youkilis, Kotchman, etc.), as their FIP of 4.36 is considerably higher than their ERA. The Yankees actually have a 3.50 FIP during that span, meaning that their defense could have done a bit more to help the team’s relievers (there’s not a huge disparity between the ERA and FIP, though). The Yankee bullpen also has a 9.62 K/9 while Boston’s K/9 is 8.04. Plus, our relievers are walking fewer batters—2.78 BB/9—when compared to the BoSox relief corps (4.08 BB/9). Much of this success can be attributed to Phil Hughes and the emerging David Robertson. [...]

  27. [...] only two options for demotion in the pen are David Robertson and Phil Coke. Robertson’s been pitching awful well lately, and it’s doubtful he goes at this point. Coke has had his struggles, but he’s also [...]

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