Does David Robertson Create His Own Leverage?

“I like to walk a couple guys, make it interesting.” - Robertson

For those of you who know me (or at least follow me on Twitter), you may know that I am extremely, extremely fond of David Robertson. Is it the socks? Yes. Is it that 14.26 k/9? Yes. Is it the curveball? Yes. Is that way he likes to get slotted into jams and work himself out of them? Yes. But really, it’s all of that and more combined. What’s even better is how good he’s been for the Yankees. It’s really, really easy to like a guy when he comes out into a second-and-third-no-outs jam in the seventh and leaves without giving up a single run.

Here at River Ave Blues, that last reason is why we like him as a blog. Robertson’s proven to be an extremely effective fireman for the team, reaching out to pull any other pitcher’s ass out of the fire on any given day. He’s especially excelled in that role this year, so far posting career highs in every category: GB%, K/9, LOB% are the nicest ones to look at, all with a BABIP even a bit higher than his usual. This all means one thing: either Robertson is going to have a career year, or there’s a really dark cloud waiting to envelope him somewhere later on in the season. I’m going with the former and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to convince me otherwise.

Robertson’s one failing is his abysmally high walk rate, which currently stands at 7.64, sky-high over his career notch of 5.06 and last year’s total of 4.84. That walk rate is what’s keeping him from turning that stellar K/9 into an equally impressive K/BB ratio. Robertson’s holding onto an impressive 2.87 FIP even with all those walks, and if he could just knock some of them off….

Anyway, the point is that what do you get when you are put into that second-and-third-no-outs jam and then you walk a guy? Additional leverage. And what does Robertson have a lot of this year? High-leverage situations. I wonder how much he makes his own fireman situations just as much as he covers up for everyone else’s. Now, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t do this intentionally (though it would be funny, awesome and terrible if it was on purpose), but does David Robertson inflate his average leverage index (aLI)? If he does, it’s his own walks that are causing him to be such a capable fireman, and if so, it’s not really something we should be loving him for.

Robertson’s aLI for this year is 1.55, which means he’s coming in more and more in those high leverage situations (1.5 is defined as “high”), second only to Mo (and Noesi, but I’m excluding him based on small sample size). The leverage of at-bats when he comes in is about 0.97 when he comes and 1.46 when he comes out, which is more of a result of him coming out in late innings than anything else. What we’re looking at is what happens in between.

At this point in the season, the fireman’s had five appearances with aLI of 2.5 or higher, which is pretty freakin’ high. His highest aLI this year so far was the bases-juiced jam he got AJ Burnett out of on April 19th in Toronto, with an aLI of 4.60. No walks there; that’s pure David Robertson magic. His next-highest aLI was 3.69 against the Royals on the 10th of May. Robertson relieved Freddy Garcia in the seventh with no outs and men on first and second. He got Aviles to fly out before letting Frenchy steal third. Current LI: 2.9. However, he loaded up the bases by walking Matt Treanor, bumping the leverage up to 4.4, code-red high-lev. He struck out the next two batters, making himself look awfully good and using the walk to inflate his own aLI. Another prime example would happen in the very next game, where he started the eighth inning with the Yankees up 2-1 over the Royals. The LI of a clean 8th up by one is 2.2, pretty absurdly high to begin with, and Robertson walked a guy, struck a guy out, walked another guy and struck another guy out, pushing the LI of the situation up to an abysmal 4.0. Rather than follow the pattern, Robertson gave up the game-tying hit before getting out of the inning. Wouldn’t it have been nicer if Robertson could have secured the win, kept the strikeouts, and gotten out clean? Keeping the walks off the bases would have kept the leverage of the situation to a relatively tiny 2.1 and would have stranded the tying run at first. Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, I know, but still.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Robertson should cut down on the walks, but the fact that he’s continued to be so successful regardless of all the free passes he gives out (nearly a walk per inning) really speaks to how good his stuff is. Obviously, the most important part of Robertson’s job is to go in there, make outs quickly, keep runs from scoring, and throw as few pitches as possible. That being said, the fewer free passes the man gives out, the smaller his aLI is. I’d rather be complimenting him on clean innings and his high leverage ability, after all, and it’s not like an 8 BB/9 only comes around and hurts you when there’s a base open. No matter what his aLI is, a high BB/9 will continue to get him in trouble regardless of how houdini-esque he can be.

Feliciano using PRP treatment on injured shoulder

Via Marc Carig, lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano has been undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy for the torn capsule in his throwing shoulder. Feliciano has already undergone three treatments since being advised to rehab the injury rather than have surgery. “Everything’s good,” said the lefty. “It’s just getting strong again.”

Unlike Bartolo Colon, PRP was not used in conjunction with stem cell treatment for Feliciano’s injury. He’s been doing strengthening exercises with weights and plans to begin throwing early next month.

Yanks leave bats in Baltimore, fall to Mets

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

It’s late and we’re all getting raptured on Saturday anyway, so let’s recap this quickly…

  • The Yankees had runners on base in each of the first six innings but scored their lone run on a Mark Teixeira solo homer. They were 1-for-10 with men in scoring position as a team, and the one hit was (yet another) Derek Jeter infield single that didn’t even move Brett Gardner from second to third. The lineup went to sleep late in the game again, as just one of the final 16 Yankees reached base and the Mets bullpen went nine up, nine down. That’s the exact opposite of what’s supposed to happen.
  • Freddy Garcia was pretty good, and I didn’t even think the pitch that Daniel Murphy hit out for the go-ahead run was all that bad. Splitter down in the zone, he just golfed it out. Otherwise he put seven men on base and allowed two runs in seven innings, a perfectly fine job and the kind of outing we’d take from Sweaty Freddy all season long. Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson did their job in the eight and ninth innings, respectively. The pitching was most definitely not the problem.
  • Typical Yankees’ loss, pretty good pitching and lousy offense. All these early season games in the Bronx have resulted in a 13-12 record at some, so way to take care of business boys. Here’s the WPA graph and here’s the box score.

Another lame Saturday night FOX broadcast for Game Two of the Subway Series, when A.J. Burnett gets the ball against Chris Capuano.

Montero’s big double goes for naught as Whelan blows save

The Yankees are very well-represented in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. Gary Sanchez and Manny Banuelos were ranked as the 12th and 13th hottest prospects in the minors, Jorge Vazquez got some love as the older guy pounding younger competition, and Ramon Flores is gaining some helium. Good times.

Steve Garrison (groin) has started throwing in Tampa and is close to returning, but Graham Stoneburner (neck) has yet to get back on the mound. The Reds released Chase Weems recently, who is the kid the Yankees sent to the Reds for Jerry Hairston Jr. in 2009. That one worked out well.

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Lehigh Valley)
Kevin Russo, LF & Justin Maxwell, CF: both 1 for 5, 2 K – Russo doubled, scored a run, and drove one in
Dan Brewer, RF: 0 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K –
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 PB – six for his last 22 (.273) with three doubles … big three-run double in the seventh capped a five-run comeback
Jorge Vazquez, 1B & Brandon Laird, 3B: both 1 for 4 – JoVa got hit by a pitch, Laird scored a run
Luis Nunez, 2B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HBP
Ramiro Pena, SS: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 2B
P.J. Pilittere, DH: 0 for 4, 1 K, 1 SB – that’s his first stolen base in five years
Carlos Silva, RHP: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9-3 GB/FB – 55 of 85 pitches ere strikes (64.7%) … sat 86-88 early on, and he was really working on the offspeed stuff as well
George Kontos, RHP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 16 of 27 pitches were strikes (59.3%)
Randy Flores, LHP: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 11 of 18 pitches were strikes (61.1%)
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 11 of his 18 pitches were strikes (61.1%) … the comeback wasn’t meant to be

[Read more…]

Game 43: Meet The Mets

Regardless of your feelings about Interleague Play, it’s always a fun time when the Yankees and Mets get together. The 2011 edition of the Subway Series kicks off tonight, and you can say it’s “just another game all you want,” but there are bragging rights on the line for a lot of friends and family around the city. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C – somebody get this man a day off
Jorge Posada, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Brett Gardner, LF

Freddy Garcia, SP

It was raining in New York earlier, the game is scheduled to start on time (7:05pm ET). Both YES and SNY will have the locally locally while MLB Network will carry it nationally enjoy.

Injury Notes: Phil Hughes will meet with the team doctor tonight to get looked over and determine the next step in his throwing program. He’s been playing catch with no problems for two weeks now … Chris Dickerson underwent a thorough examination this afternoon and although the results are not known, he seems confident that he does not have a concussion … Pedro Feliciano’s rehab program is coming along well and he’s “getting strong.” He’ll test his arm by throwing in early June … click here for updates on A-Rod and Eric Chavez.

Non-Injury & Injury Updates: A-Rod & Chavez

Via Jack Curry and Dom Amore, Alex Rodriguez did not have his surgically repaired him examined today as scheduled. “We’ve had a lot of late nights,” said Joe Girardi, who indicated that Alex will have the joint looked at another time. A-Rod feels fine and the exam is just a routine check-up, so there’s no urgency. He wouldn’t be playing if it was something to worry about.

In other news, Marc Carig reports that Eric Chavez is making progress on his way back from a deep bone bruise in his foot, and hasn’t walked with a limp in days. That’s good news, but he’s still a ways off from returning. With all due respect Chris Dickerson, get well soon, Chavy.

2011 Draft: Williams Jerez

The draft is just 16 days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some players individually rather than lump a few together in one post.

(Photo Credit: NY Post)

Williams Jerez | OF

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Jerez moved to New York City with his father two years ago. He attends Grand Street High School, Dellin Betances‘ alma mater, and opened eyes this spring while playing for the Hank Steinbrenner sponsored Hank’s Yanks team that gives underprivileged players a chance to participate in showcase events they otherwise couldn’t afford. This article says Jerez has a full ride to JuCo powerhouse San Jacinto waiting for him, though his high school coach says he’ll turn pro as long as it’s a “big contract” because he “wants to help his family.”

Scouting Report
Jerez certainly passes the eye test. He’s fantastic athlete and a big kid at 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs., showing off all five tools. Power is his weakest tool at the moment, but the lefty swinger gets good leverage in his hacks and projects to have average pop down the road. Jerez has good foot speed that he uses both in the field and on the bases, and his arm is strong and accurate. How much he fills out and slows down as he gets older will determine if he can remain in center field long term. There is definitely some rawness to Jerez’s game, especially since he hasn’t faced the best competition as an amateur. He’s a long-term project, not doubt about it, but one with considerable ceiling. Here’s some video of him taking a few swings. The kid certainly looks good in a uniform, eh?

The Yankees very clearly have some interest in Jerez, and it’s not just because he played for Hank’s Yanks. They had a pair of scouts on him at the James Monroe Tournament last month, and even brought him to Tampa over the winter to work out with the team and introduce him to some players, including Robinson Cano. Damon Oppenheimer has always been fond of toolsy athletes, and he really kicked it up a notch last year. Jerez fits that profile to a tee, though it’s unclear what a “big contract” is to him. If he wants seven figures, then he’s a candidate to slide in the draft because a) teams are skeptical about giving that much money to a project, and b) there will be a ton of alternatives available.

Jerez did not make Keith Law‘s latest top 100 draft prospects list, though Baseball America recently ranking him 53rd overall. He’s a candidate to go anywhere from the second round on down.