The Yankee bullpen will be a major topic of conversation once the playoffs get underway, and will be considered one of the better relief groups among the rest of the postseason crop. Looking at the performance of the Indians last season, the power of the Yankee bullpen could determine how far they go this October.
However, as we have seen too many times this season, some of the Yankees’ most coveted arms have faltered this season, particularly in the most crucial situations. Aroldis Chapman was catastrophic for much of the season after returning from injury, while Dellin Betances has been erratic with his command after a dominant start to the season. Tommy Kahnle was dominant himself during his time with the White Sox, but has also had spurts of inconsistency during his brief time in pinstripes.
Of course, all three of these relievers at their best are easily the toughest bullpen to face in the late innings of a playoff game. The only problem is, any one of them can lose the strike zone at a moment’s notice. Luckily, there is another reliable arm in the pen that has helped guide the Yankees to a World Series before.
Should the Yanks find themselves in a crucial position in a tight game, Robertson should be the man Joe Girardi calls on. Not just because of his postseason pedigree, but because he has also been the most consistent presence in the Yankee bullpen since returning from Chicago. He also seems to be heating up at just the right time.
Robertson secured a big win for the Yanks against the Twins on Tuesday by striking out the side in an easy eighth inning. The perfect frame dropped his ERA below two (1.99), and also extended his scoreless streak that began after he broke out in a full sprint from the bullpen in Detroit. After the Twins series, Robertson had thrown 10 innings in September, striking out 14 and walking just three. His last two months have been superb, and has rarely caused any Yankee fans to gnaw their fingernails off.
We’ve seen Betances run into trouble as recently as this week when the Yanks were clinging to a one run lead against the Twins, and Chapman had to come on for a five-out save. It feels like those roles have been reversed before and can be again at any time. Betances and Chapman are both elite relievers when things are clicking, but we have seen them give too many free passes at times, and while Chapman was able to clean up after Betances against the Twins, it might be much harder against a team like the Astros or Indians, should the Yanks make it that far. But we have seen Robertson get out of postseason jams before, haven’t we?
The Yankees have a strong bullpen, no question about it. If they can all hit their stride at the same time like the offense seems to be doing right now, they will be incredibly tough in the postseason. Until that consistency surfaces, Robertson should be the man they call upon for the tough outs.