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Know Your 40: David Robertson

Can Robertson's Houdini act sustain a move to the ninth inning in place of Mariano Rivera after this year?

Jim McIsaac

Name: David Robertson
Position: Reliever (RHP)
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 27 (born on 4/9/1985)
Height: 5'11" Weight: 195 lbs.
Remaining Contract: 2nd year Arbitration-Eligible, Free Agent 2015
2012 Statistics: (MLB) 65 games, 60.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, 2.48 FIP, 12.02 K/9, 2.82 BB/9

David Robertson has been a successful set up man for Mariano Rivera with the Yankees, but 2013 will be a little different. Now that Rivera has announced his planned retirement at the end of the year, Robertson will likely be the man in place to take over the ninth inning next season. That has been assumed for a while now, but it was always possible that Rivera would pitch until he was 50. How Robertson does this season will most likely be watched more closely than his seasons before, just because fans will want to size up how the likely closer-to-be does.

The Yankees promoted Robertson up through their system at a lightning-fast pace after drafting him out of the University of Alabama. In his second year as a professional in 2008, he appeared in 25 games for the big league club. Since then, the man they call Houdini has been flashing brillance with his impressive strikeout numbers and ability to work out of difficult jams. Of course, some of those jams he creates for himself, because it seems like he works best when the odds are stacked against him, for some reason. Either way, he has been an important fixture of the Yankee bullpen for the last few years.

Robertson's 2011 season was easily his best season so far, earning a trip to the All-Star game and both Cy Young and MVP votes. With a season like that, you're obviously doing something right, even as a reliever. If D-Rob can give the Yankees anything close to that once he presumably becomes the next closer, it might make the transition away from the greatest closer of all time less painful than it might be otherwise. No one can be Mo, and no one ever will be, but D-Rob is more than capable of succeeding in that role for years to come if given the opportunity.

Being able to fill the closer role with a homegrown player like Robertson instead of going out and spending top dollar on the most successful closer du jour is a huge bonus for the Yankees. If they stick to their word of lowering the payroll, being able to fill that hole with a cost-efficient player from within will allow them flexibility for the rest of their roster that they will surely need.

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