David Robertson & Turning The Page

Robertson blows save in ugly loss to Rays
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(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Nothing in baseball is more deflating than grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, the dreaded blown save/loss combination in the ninth inning. The Yankees flirted with disaster on Tuesday before getting the 27th out but were not as fortunate last night. David Robertson‘s reign as the team’s closer is off the very shaky start, as in seven baserunners in 1.2 innings shaky. Blown saves are bad enough, but blown saves this early in a player’s closing career raise serious questions.

No one asked me, but I think Robertson is very capable of closing not just in the big leagues, but for a big-time contender like the Yankees. The stuff is obviously there and based on the last three years, the competitiveness appears to be there as well. That said, I think David’s getting a little too caught up in the moment and is trying to be too fine right now. He’s trying to be Mariano rather than just being himself, so to speak. As Boone Logan said after the game, Robertson might be “overthinking a little bit instead of just letting it go.”

Bad things usually happen whenever an athlete thinks, and I think Robertson’s just trying to be perfect rather than himself. He’s not Cory Wade (no offense, Cory), he doesn’t need to paint the black and fool hitters to be successful. That 31.8% career strikeout rate isn’t an accident; Robertson can make mistakes over the plate and get away with them because his fastball is lively and his curveball cracks like a whip. Yeah, there is less margin for error in the ninth inning, but one of the absolute biggest mistakes Robertson can make is getting away from what got him in the closer job in the first place.

For what it’s worth, David stood at his locker and answered every question following last night’s game. It doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things but accountability is always appreciated, especially when the alternative is ducking reporters and making it appear as though he doesn’t care. I don’t think not caring has ever been an issue here.

“Just a sad way to end the game,” said Robertson last night. “It’s going to happen. You’re going to lose games. It’s the worst feeling in the world. Mo does it, he comes back the next day and he’s the same guy. He goes right back out there and does his thing. I’m going to have to do that tomorrow.”

Of course, Robertson almost certainly will not get a chance to redeem himself today. He’s pitched in very stressful situations in each of the last two days and Joe Girardi doesn’t like to run his relievers out there three days in a row, especially this early in the season. I do think it’s important for Robertson to get back out there relatively soon though, even in a non-save situation just so he doesn’t dwell on last night’s disaster. Turning the page is a lot easier to do when you’re not sitting around waiting for your next appearance. Blowing saves is part of life, so Robertson just needs to work through this and be ready to go next time he’s called upon.

Robertson blows save in ugly loss to Rays
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  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Robertson is 26 years old. “Saving Mo” from pitching back to back/pitch count#’s etc is for a 42 year old arm with alot more wear over 16 years.

    Is it possible that Robertson could pitch one inning 3 nights in a row?

    It would truly be an epic achievement and worthy of a new section in the binder.

    • V

      He probably could in late September/October if it were needed, but it’s not worth doing in mid-May. Those were not low-stress pitches, nor were they 8 pitch Mariano outings (25 and 19 pitches, respectively).

  • V

    I wonder if part of the wildness was that both save opportunities started the same way – that pesky Sean Rodriguez hitting a weak grounder through the hole next to ARod (If ARod is positioned three feet closer, those are both easy outs).

    Robertson made his pitch, made a crappy hitter hit a weak grounder… and he’s on base. Then came the ‘pitching too fine’ part.

  • Kosmo

    If CC has a high pitch count and Girardi needs to pull him after the 8 th inning with NY holding the lead then who gets the nod to close the game ?
    Soriano has thrown 39 pitches in the last 2 games and Robertson 44 pitches.

    • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

      I’m sure that a deal could be made before game time for Chad Gaudin. That ought to make Girardi giddy.

      • MannyGeee


    • King Joffery

      Wade or Logan depending on the matchups. But I think he’ll be counting on the big man to give him 8-9 innings tonight. This is a weak lineup that CC should be able to do well against. Nova and Phelps both had success so I expect CC do have a dominant performance tonight.

      • OldYanksFan

        What would be even nicer would be for our offense to score 6 or more runs. Since the dynasty days, our team has always been built on decent pitching and outstanding offense.

        Our season depends on ARod and Teix figuring it out.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      It’s a Sweaty Freddy day. Joe G. is just hoping the offense can put up 5 runs.

  • Cano fan #1

    Or Scott proctor

  • OMG! Bagels!

    DRob was also on Twitter last night. Facing the music and thanking the fans for their support.

    • JohnC

      He’s a tough kid. He’ll be fine. Have to learn from failure as well as success

  • OMG! Bagels!

    Also I think that Mo has been some incredible durable machine for the Yankees for an unheard of period of time. He has the all-time saves record. He’s recorded the out in the last games of several World Series and on and on and on. We all know that you do not have to inflate anything about Mo personally or professionally. The Yankees and their fans have been lucky to have the greatest closer of all time and I know I’m grateful for how many times I saw him pitch at Yankee Stadium. He stands alone. We could and have talked about this ad nauseum.

    But I think the NYY fans still do inflate him to some degree. When he started, he was uncomfortable closing, he blew saves early in his career and every time he did it throughout his career, the critics liked to say he was done. He’s blown saves in big games though not often. Closers blow games.

    The problem is we’ve had the greatest closer of all time for FIFTEEN years. That’s a long time to be spoiled. That’s a long time to have success. We all knew post-Mo was not going to be easy but we weren’t prepared for it to be now. But I think we need to support these guys.

  • King Joffery

    Robertson will be fine. Live and learn. It’s different when you don’t have Mariano to come in and clean up the mess so he’ll adjust. If we took anybody who has a job and picked them up and put them in a different role they’d need time to settle in. Hopefully Mo talks to him and tells him to just forget last night and move on. Seems like he already has that attitude.

  • viridiana

    Excellent post that counters predictable over-reaction.
    Events of last two nites do suggest, though, that Yanks may need third power arm to handle eighth and ninth, especially with high pitch tendencies of D-Rob and Sori. Maybe Logan can handle. But Hughes also looms as possibilty and perhaps necessity. Not saying he should go to pen — but not sure if alternatives will work.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Could end up being Phelps. If he was short relief, he could probably amp it up 93-94.

  • Alkaline

    I love his twitter posts. Give him a day of rest and to relax (and maybe talk to Mo if possible). Go out there the next time full of confidence. To get the blown save out of the way early might be a good thing to get that monkey off of his back. Maybe now that it’s over and done with could help him calm down a bit.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    Robertson can’t be Mo, he can only be Robertson. But let’s not forget how Mo’s career as a closer began. He blew 3 of his first six save chances. He did pretty well after that.


    Rivera’s transition from setup man to closer was not seamless; he blew three of his first six save opportunities and indicated that he was initially uncomfortable in the role.


    (I don’t always trust Wikipedia but this one has a source quoting Torre).

    • MannyGeee

      ironically, you dont trust Wikipedia talking about relievers, but you trust Torre the bullpen mangler (via Wikipedia) in matter of relief.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I was impressed with Phelps attitude. He threw strikes made the batters hit his pitch not a mistake. He’ll become more efficient with his pitch count as he becomes more confident. Love that
    FB which comes back against lefties.

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

      Agree. Phelps is calm, poised, and a strike thrower with good movement on his pitches and good mechanics.

  • OldYanksFan

    I’m proud of DRob. If the media thought replacing Torre would be hard, that’s nothing compared to replacing The Great Rivera. It will take a number of outings before DRob realizes that he’s not replacing Mo… he’s just our Closer. I have faith in the kid.

  • Boomer’s Boy

    When Mo took over for Wetteland, he blew 3 of his first 6 Save opportunities. Turned out to be a pretty decent closer no???

  • Jim Is Bored

    I’m actually surprised at the general levelheadedness I’ve seen. I expected much worse.

    I mean sure ESPN has had its share of crazy DOOM articles, but most people seem to have a pretty good grip on the situation.

    • Jim Is Bored

      And I think it’d be WAY different if that were Soriano blowing it last night, for what it’s worth.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Daytime comments > Game Thread comments.

      • Jim Is Bored

        I used to comment a lot more, including game threads. I find I’m better off just reading the great content RAB provides, and sticking my feet in the water occasionally, thus avoiding the politics and the general madness.

        But yeah, game threads are insane.

        • Havok9120

          Last night was ridiculous. All the people who we only see during a loss were out and about during the 9th inning.

  • gageagainstthemachineq

    Rivera was far from perfect when he started and still is far from perfect. Two things came to mind last night after Robertson blew the save. 1) Rivera blew the save against the same team on opening day of this year. 2) Rivera blew the save in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
    I know Rivera had a track record that allowed for forgiveness in those two instances (and pretty much every other blown save he’s had), but I think we have to go easy on Robertson. He was thrust in this role very unexpectedly and probably feels like he has the franchise on his shoulders right now. I think he’ll come out ahead just fine and likely be the next great Yankee closer. He deserves our patience and trust in this transition. My two cents.

  • rogue

    Tex should be batting 7th, Swish and Ibanez should move up, and I never want to see Wise in the starting lineup again. I’m willing to take a chance on Nunez at LF.

    Tex is a rally killer. At least last year he was able to draw walks. Not so this year.

  • Kramerica Industries

    An important disclaimer I want to put out there right at the head of this post is that I think DRob will ultimately be fine and fill the role of closer fine over the rest of the season.

    That said, I think cases like the last two games are why the “closer” tends to be given such a special tag, and why the idea that “any good reliever can get three outs in the 9th” is easier said than done. The last two nights, DRob was facing the bottom of the Rays order to start the 9th. Sean Rodriguez, Brandon Allen, Carlos Pena, and Ben Zobrist have all faced him the past two nights. And both times, the Rays have gotten at least three runners on base against him, despite the fact that DRob, on the whole, has been pretty much lights out ever since 2011 started.

    Is it a coincidence that he ran into some regression-related trouble the past two nights? Perhaps. Anything’s possible. It’s also possible his heavy workload on Tuesday caught up to him last night – as Mike said, it took all of six pitches for the Rays to load the bases. Rodriguez and Allen were all over the first pitch fastballs. And Robertson’s command looked 2009-2010esque, not what we saw 2nd half of last year and the start of this year.

    At the same time, there is a mental aspect to becoming “the man” who is the last line of defense to finish off a ballgame. And I’m not shocked Robertson’s had some initial troubles. It’s more or less highlighted here because these are important games against a division rival, a team that has been a total pain in the ass for teams all across baseball to actually beat over the course of 27 outs. As I said last night – they did this shit already to the Yankees; they did this shit in Detroit in a game where Verlander 1-hit them over 8 innings, only for JV and the ‘pen to shit the bed in the 9th; they did this shit to Jordan Walden and the Angels a couple weeks ago; and they did this shit a week later in a game where Montero put the M’s ahead in the 11th, only for Upton to get a two-out hit to tie the game, and Elliot Johnson (in all his sucktitude) to win the game in the next inning.

    Really, I’m waiting for the Rays luck to run out. Then again, I’ve been on top of their 9th inning shit since they did in Detroit, and they’ve done it three more times since then. Maybe they’re destined. Most teams are lucky if they win five games all season when they enter the 9th inning or later trailing. The Rays have done that and it’s only May 9. Shit like that needs to stop happening.

  • rek4gehrig

    90% of the game is half mental.

  • Doug

    Didn’t Michael Kay say that Mariano blew 3 of his first six chances in 1997?… it seemed to work out in the end.

    • rek4gehrig

      Yeah. We have to be patient with DRob. He will be fine.