Yankees manager Joe Girardi hasn’t officially named the Yankees next closer now that Mariano Rivera is done for the season with a torn ACL, but he did indicate that in a save situation on Thursday night he would have gone with David Robertson – a strong signal that he will eventually be named the closer.
Reporters talked to D-Rob after the game about it and he had this to say.
“I don’t know if I’m prepared to do it or not,” Robertson told Chad Jennings of the Journal News about closing. “I’m going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got and hope for the best. I’m not Mariano Rivera. I’m not going to be able to go out there and do exactly what he does and get outs real quickly. I’m a different style pitcher. I’ve never done it. All I can do is say I’m going to try real hard.”
Obviously Robertson is being modest. Since the start of last season he has been almost Rivera like with a 0.93 ERA, a 1.094 WHIP, a 13.7 K/9, and a 4.4 BB/9. He has been lights out and moving from the 8th to the 9th inning should not have a huge effect on that. He is not Scott Proctor after all.
The bigger problem for the Yankees is not replacing Rivera, it’s more about replacing the guys who are replacing Rivera. D-Rob slides from the 8th to the 9th inning, Rafael Soriano moves up from the 7th to the 8th, but suddenly Cory Wade is not just a very good middle reliever, but is now an important 7th inning cog. He’s been solid in Pinstripes, but he does not have the track record of Soriano.
Then there are the guys that are going to have to replace Wade. Phil Hughes is unlikely in this role, but can’t be ruled out because of his struggles. More likely though somebody like Cody Eppley or even Freddy Garcia is going to have to step up and play a more important role in the pen. D.J. Mitchell is also a possibility, but will be the long man in the bullpen for at least a while (or until David Phelps gets knocked from the rotation).
The point is, a spot that has been pretty much on lockdown for a year now, Wade’s middle relief role, is in flux and that will be a much bigger concern than who is taking over the 9th inning from Rivera because while Robertson is indeed not Rivera, he is a very solid backup option.