It’s a bit depressing when David Robertson talks about Jason Kendall as "the hardest out I’ve had to get in a long time," but you can see his point: Kendall, whatever his other deficiencies, strikes out about 50 times a year. In today’s free-swingin’ game, that’s a lot like not striking out at all. Kendall might not scare you most of the time, but in a tense situation you can see a pitcher worrying about the greater likelihood of his putting the ball in play and having it find a hole.
Robertson is a solid pitcher, but concerns about inherited runners have always played a greater part with him than with the average reliever. Over the last three years, the average reliever has stranded two-thirds of the runners he’s been left with. His career strand rate is 60 percent. This year he had actually been a little better than average until he allowed Willie "Still not a Yankee, hallelujah" Bloomquist to double home two of CC Sabathia’s runners.
In the grand scheme of things, the inherited runs haven’t added up to much; Robertson has allowed about five more of them to score than the average pitcher would have. Still, it’s a fascinating failing, however minor, for a man who might someday be asked to close on the sad day that Mariano Rivera can no longer continue. Robertson’s waive-‘em-home problem has been small enough that maybe he’s just had bad luck, but we can’t yet say that he has ice water in his veins. On the other hand, hey, at 25 he’s got time—Rivera didn’t close until he was 27.