David Robertson’s Dead-ish Arm

Nova & Grandy lead Yanks to win over Rays
Hughes scratched from start today

Over the course of the season, I think we’ve come to take David Robertson for granted. Well, maybe that’s not the right way to put it. I guess it would be more accurate to say that he’s one part of the Yankees that we’re not concerned about, like at all. At least that’s how I feel. Aside from Mariano Rivera, there’s no pitcher out in that bullpen that I have more confidence in that D-Rob.

Because of this lack of concern about Robertson and his performance, there’s a chance that you may not have noticed his velocity in recent appearances, which happens to be trending downward ever so slightly. Here, have a look…

It’s nothing major, but there’s a definite arc there. Robertson started the year at his usual 91-92, peaked at 93-95 with a few 96’s (and I remember at least one 97) in the middle of the summer, and now is gradually declining back to the 92-93 range. That’s right in line with what we learned about velocity and the temperature earlier in the year, and again, it’s not a huge spike or decline in velocity either. It’s there, it’s real, but it’s not drastic.

Robertson’s workload this month has been an issue, only because the team has played an inordinate number of close games lately. Monday’s appearance was his first in three days, but before that he pitched in nine of the first 16 days of September. At one point he made six appearances in the span of nine days. Aside from this recent stretch, Joe Girardi‘s always been very good at keeping his top relievers fresh and spreading his workload around.

Overall, Robertson has already eclipsed last year’s total of 61.1 IP by 2.2 IP, however he’s faced ten fewer batters and thrown four more pitches. Furthermore, not all appearances are made equal. Although Robertson has faced 138 batters with men on base this year (146 last year), he’s faced way more with men in scoring position (109 vs. 88) and with the bases loaded (18 vs. 9). I think we call agree that pitches thrown in tight spots are more taxing that pitches with no one on base, which is why that nominal increase in innings pitched can be a little deceiving.

I don’t think this is anything to be worried about, it’s not like he’s suddenly throwing 87-88 or something like that. Robertson has worked quite a bit this month because of all the close games the Yankees have played lately, but the team is in the position to rest him over the final eight days of the season. They don’t need to push him three, or hell, even just two days in a row from here on out. Robertson’s performance hasn’t suffered at all, and right now there’s no reason to expect it too. The kid has proven that he can pitch at 91 in the past, and the velocity hasn’t even dropped off that much yetanyway. This is just something that caught my eye over the last week.

Nova & Grandy lead Yanks to win over Rays
Hughes scratched from start today
  • CountryClub

    I’ve noticed the dip in velocity and just figured it was because of the recent workload. But it also could be because of the cooler temps.

    Either way, I wasn’t happy to see him up in the 8th last night of a 5-0 game.

    Good post.

  • Bummed and Rushed

    Terrible headline – link bait/melodrama. A decline in velo can be related to many things. There is no evidence for the lede. None at all.

    • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

      There’s minimal evidence. Not fair to say no evidence at all.

      • NJ_Andy

        Boy, someone’s splitting hairs.

        The lead is a bit exciteable, a more ‘reasonable’ headline would’ve read, “David Robertson’s Slight Decline in Velo.”

        That said, who cares? I imagine we all would have read that article too, and if an attention getting headlines draws in new readers and pumps up page views for Mike and the boys, good for them.

      • Bummed and Rushed

        Evidence of what? The colder weather?

        • http://twitter.com/JimIsBored JimIsBored (Jim S)

          Evidence of a velocity decrease. I agree it was an odd headline choice, but you went a bit overboard.

          • Donnies Mullet

            Dude, look at the image. If anything his velo is up over 2010. To call it a dead arm is asinine and to imply needless drama.

  • JD

    Feeling the effects of the early season abuse obviously.

    • NJ_Andy

      Damned dry humping…

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Absent the injury report fatigue and cooler temps seemed to be the appropriate answer. With the magic number at 3 to clinch the AL East crown. There will be some time to recuperate before the playoffs.

    I often wonder if the cooler weather and the six day rotation has affected CC?

  • Monteroisdinero

    More changeups please. The last 10 days of the season would be a good time to throw a bunch. DRob with a changeup in hitter’s counts would be devastating.

    • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

      D-Rob is already devastating.

  • CS Yankee

    He’s pacing himself.


  • bill

    Have to love that while boston is freaking out and hating there $140 million man this week were just trying to find something to talk about. This isn’t a big deal as the article alluded too, it isn’t like he’s getting hit all of a sudden. As long as the results don’t change I think he’ll be fine

    • MannyGeee


      While that extra 3 MPH can help a guy like D-Rob keep batters off his ‘funny stuff’, he is not a guy who relies on power to make his outs. Call me when he goes under 90 consistently.

  • pete

    I think we call agree that pitches thrown in tight spots are more taxing that pitches with no one on base

    I’m not sure I agree with this. The actual motion of pitching from the stretch and pitching from a windup should be identical in terms of taxation on the arm. It isn’t always, because some pitchers speed up, and that is/i> more taxing, but I haven’t noticed Robertson doing this. Does he ever pitch from the windup? And when he pitches with men on base, does he speed up his motion? I can’t be sure, but I think the answer to both is “no”. So, in terms of objective physical differences, there should not be any.

    I think this idea stems from the commonly held notion that physical acts committed under psychological duress are more physically stressful, which I don’t think is true. Some pitchers, I’m sure, lose precision under the pressure and “rush” or otherwise fuck up their deliveries in tight spots, but such pitchers, especially if they are relievers, will A) be unsuccessful, and B) burn out very quickly.

    Anyway, it’s not a big deal, I’ve just seen this idea tossed around a lot around here, and I never remember feeling more taxed pitching with runners on base than with the bases empty.

    *The other exception (besides screwed up deliveries) is if the runners are not inherited runners; that is to say, if a pitcher is “off” and has to struggle through an inning because he’s not all the way there, then yes, those innings will be more taxing. They will also be evidenced by high pitch-per-inning counts, though, so it’s not really necessary to look at the runners on base numbers.

    • pete

      did not mean to italicize that whole thing. /formattingfail

    • Sayid J.

      I was going to say the same thing. Even ignoring the two typos in the sentence (“I think we CALL agree” and “more taxing THAT pitches”), it’s still a pretty poor sentence. Who is agreeing here? I’ve never read a single article stating that pitches with men on base are more stressful on the arm, nor can I even imagine a reasonable reason why that would be. The reasons you hypothesized, Jim, are certainly plausible, but are also highly unlikely to have any measurable effect.

      • Cris Pengiuci

        I agree. Haven’t seen anything pointing to pitching with rnners on base being more taxing than with the bases empty. I can see ti being more mentally taxing, but physically? Perhaps the concentration to better control your pitch location comes into play, but again, that’s more of a mental drain than a physical one. I need to see some sort of evidence to buy into that.

  • Monteroisdinero

    As far as pitching from the windup there is only one relief pitcher/closer who does and his name is Rafael Soriano.

    /but I could be wrong

  • MannyGeee

    Sorry Mr. Robinson, we rserve the right to use the term ‘Dead Arm’ only for current or former Top Prospects…

    Right this way, Mr Hughes.

  • KeithK

    I look at the chart and find it hard to draw any statistically significant conclusions from the data. Given the scatter the data is consistent with a flat trend with some random change. Since some of the posters think they’ve noticed a drop in velocity maybe there has been one. Either way I don’t think it’s significant. Talk about sweating the small stuff.

  • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

    I believe CC has also shown lower velocity early on, peaking with the warmer weather, and then decreasing some as the weather cools again.

    I’m guessing some pitchers might be impacted by weather more than others, but probably all are to some degree.

    So is this really a question of workload or weather?

  • Josh

    Are we EVER gonna grow out of giving someone the “nickname” of their 1st initial and 1st 2 or 3 letters of their last name? It’s right up there with adding -gate to everything that’s vaguely scandalous.

    • Martin

      well said!

  • http://yankeemedicrecords.com LemDaGem

    Late movement. Is it a “heavy ball” with some sink to it as it crosses the plate ? 12 to 6 and 9 to 3 with accuracy. Can he mix location, speed and his repertoire enough to get the needed outs ?
    Sometimes the reputation of throwing mid ’90’s is all you need in a specific match up. Sometimes it only takes one key punch out in the mid ’90’s to get D-Rob through his inning of work. The clincher will always be “CAN HE CONSISTENTLY THROW STRIKES WHEN NEEDED ?”

  • Gambler61

    First, this article is very much deceiving. David Robertson is fine, and will be more so when the playoffs begin. He’s worked a lot, true. Facts are it not “Dead Armish” it’s fatigue. Huge Difference as anyone that’s ever played the game above high school level knows. He’ll get his rest and be ready to contribute same as he has all season when the playoffs start. A dead arm is not able to bounce back with just a short rest. I saw him hit 96 on the gun just a couple of weeks or so ago. He’ll rest, take the ball in the playoffs just the same as always.

  • Joe

    He can strike people out even with 91 because his stride to the plate is a foot longer than league average. In fact, his release point is 7 feet from the rubber, while the league average is 5’11”. That adds 2 or 3 apparent MPH and probably accounts for “late life”.